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Schools around the country have given us feedback about their Exercise the Right to Read experience. Here’s a consolidation of what worked for them:


Find a Leader / Teacher Buy-In: Many schools reported that having a person accept the lead was key to their success, and that having teachers and administrators accept the challenge and stay committed was the key to having students complete the program. (These schools also reported that although some students were reluctant participants at first, by the time they’d crossed the “finish line” they had a real sense of accomplishment and want to read and run again next year.)


Pick Up the Phone: The school that raised the most money (over $9,000!) managed to do so by getting corporate sponsorship from businesses in their community. Contact your local business’s manager (or owner) and tell him/her that your school is participating in a fundraiser that combines fitness, literacy, and charity. Some of the large chain stores have charitable donations just waiting to be applied for by local organizations. If a company declines making a monetary donation, ask if they’d be willing to donate gift certificates or other items that could be used as prizes.


Try a “Penny War”: One school had trouble getting people to sign up for traditional pledges, so instead they engaged in “The Penny War”. Each class had a money container. (‘Class’ could be groupings of any kind, depending on your school’s level /situation.) Students could only put pennies in their own class’s container, but students from other classes could put larger coins (and currency) in competing classes’ containers. The winning class was determined by this formula: Total pennies – other $ in container + ETRTR pledges. The results won this school fourth place overall, so obviously the Penny War worked!


Before School Rock ‘n’ Run: Several schools conducted a before-school walk / run with music blasting. They reported good participation and invigorated students, and one librarian lost 12 pounds the month she conducted the before-school activity! (1 mile is only 8-10 minutes to run, maybe 15 to walk…it’s not much of a time investment, and the rewards of a before-school walk / run are definitely worth it.)


All-School Read: Every student, faculty and staff member read the same book (with teachers reading the book aloud to their classes). If your school has Sustained Silent Reading in place already, this is a great way to reinforce a sense of school community.


Departments Working in Harmony: Schools that divided the duties (P.E. doing the mile walk / run with the classes and Language or Library in charge of getting the 26 minutes logged) reported great success.


Fun Activities to Keep Kids Motivated:

  • PJ  Day – kids read in the hallways / MPR / wherever works – a day devoted to reading.
  • Movie Day – several schools showed the Shredderman Rules movie, but this could be any book-based movie. The ETRTR class / captain / coordinators sold popcorn and drinks, with the proceeds going to the ETRTR campaign.
  • Pass the Baton – decorate a track baton with Exercise the Right to Read (spray paint it orange and Magic Marker “ETRTR” on it – or whatever you want!). Each Friday, have the classes report their progress (total minutes read, total miles run, total money raised…whatever criteria is appropriate for your school). The winning class / group gets to keep the baton until the scores are tallied the following Friday (at which time they’ll likely have to pass the baton). At the end of the program add the winning class’s name to the baton and put it in the school’s trophy case!

Website Handouts: Schools reported really liking the educational handouts, as well as the bookmarks, race map, jingle, and other materials avaliable on this site (see School Program main page).

If you have ideas of your own, we'd love to hear from you!


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