Adults Need "Read Ins" Too!

A modest proposal to bring back the elementary school Read In Day for adults. (Pillow forts optional)

Remember "Read In" days in elementary school?

You would come to school in pajamas and lounge on bean bag chairs or huddle in a blanket-constructed fort and....well.... read a book.

Inevitably surrounded by junk food and pizza – often taking place on the Friday before a big break – these school-wide events were designed to make reading fun, exciting, and something that everybody participates in. That last point is really important. Looking out across the expanse of fuzzy blankets and plush pillows you would see ALL of your classmates with their nose in a book.

This girl's got the right idea. 

I know what you're thinking. That sounds too good to be true. Is that a real thing? What about the lost instructional time? What about standardized math testing prep? I know you're thinking this because I too questioned my own memory. Were the "Read In" days I remembered real - or did I just invent a memory of my ideal day?

After confirming, in the words of Wall Street Journal reporter Alison Sider that yes, "it was totally a thing!" I found myself wondering what Read Ins could look like for adults.

The Nostalgia Driven Reboot We Really Need

In an age when nostalgia-fueled reboots are all the rage – Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Clarissa Explains It All, and Charmed (*Charmed* for gosh sakes!) – what if instead of bringing back once-popular TV shows we brought back the Read In?

Let's face it – the demands of adult life in 2019 can make it difficult to find time to read.

Even for folks who love to read, who recognize how good they feel when their brain is focused and immersed in a story, it can be hard to find the time or get over the hump of cracking open a book.

Modern professional life in particular presents a slew of challenges: stress-inducing deadlines, the proliferation of after-hours networking events, and ever-accumulating email inboxes make it hard for people to find the time for books. It also makes the tempting siren call of rebooted TV series on Netflix harder to ignore.

In fact, a recent survey we conducted of self-described avid readers found that 75% of respondents said they felt bad about not reading as much as they would like to.

The Idea: Read In Days For Adults

That's why I propose that companies consider instituting the good ole fashioned Read In Day to give overwhelmed, distracted adults (aka all of us) carved out space and freedom to read.

Twice a year - once in the winter and once in the summer - employees would don their best business casual lounge wear and come into the office to simply spend the day reading a book of their choice among their colleagues... who are also reading. The pillow forts would be optional, ideally the pizza wouldn't be.

The core of the idea is to acknowledge the fact that reading books is a valuable use of time and an important and valued part of professional life. An hour an employee spends reading a book may be just as valuable to a company as an hour spent wrangling emails.  

Here are a few more benefits for employers to think about:

  • Convert pre-break days from wasted time to long term value

Lets be real - how much work is actually getting done in the office the day before winter holidays or the day before 4th of July? Unless work equals checking Instagram stories while the clock ticks away, probably not a ton. Wouldn't that time be better spent and add more value to the company if your employees were reading a book - learning new things, forging new connections in their brain that might later result in original, creative insights for your firm?

I contend that two company-wide Read In days before long work breaks wouldn't actually impact productivity that much and in fact add more value in the long run.

  • Cost effective way to build team culture and reflect values

A company-wide Read In practice would be fun, useful way for employees to participate in a team activity without the dreaded ropes course or trust fall exercises. It would be cost effective for a company to simply order some catering without worrying about the budget for a big event, open bar, or other expensive off-site.

  • Send a message to employees that reading is a valuable use of time

A lot of employers say they care about employees' personal growth and development, but by instituting Read Ins they have the opportunity to "walk the walk."  By having the message sent from the top down, and also requiring that everyone participates, employees will get the signal that reading books isn't something that competes with work, but rather is something that can be integrated and leveraged to do better work, be a better thinker, communicator, team member, and human living in this world.

So, who's ready to join the Read In Revolution? Join us!

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