Abbott Elementary “Read-a-Thon” Review: Finding the Joy

Abbott Elementary 2×11 “Read-a-Thon” Spoilers Ahead

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY 2x11  “Read-A-Thon” – The competition heats up between Melissa and Janine as their classrooms go head-to-head in a read-a-thon sponsored by a local pizza shop. Both teachers encourage their students to hit the books hard but face some unexpected obstacles on their path to pizza glory. Meanwhile, Jacob and Gregory join forces and attempt to get their student-podcasting club off the ground when “Abbott Elementary” returns WEDNESDAY, JAN. 4 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EST), on ABC.
(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

Abbott Elementary Season 2, Episode 11 returns with what could be an emotional episode for a few of us looking back at our past through this week’s theme. As Janine and Melissa compete during a “Read-a-Thon” for a pretty ugly belt (no offense, ladies), Jacob kickstarts his school podcast with Gregory as a producer. 

While the episode is fun and upholds the show’s charming warmth, in the same way that “Gifted Program” speaks to the heart of learning, a brief moment speaks to the importance of the type of reading that matters—finding the joy in it. In all instances where the show takes time to address a student’s independent learning pace, it feels like it heals the parts of us that went through similar things. For a comedy full of loads of mockery, no show upholds more grace.

Read-a-Thon and Grace

Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 11 "Read-a-Thon" LISA ANN WALTER, How Melissa talks with Mya about her reading journey in Abbott Elementary 2x11 is a beautiful showcase of how kindness could make a student feel safe. There's no sardonic judgment in her tone or any form of disappointment—she merely understands, and more than that, she cares profoundly. She cares about being the type of teacher who'll ensure that her students know that it's not about how much you read or how quickly, but it's about finding the books that bring joy. It's about learning to understand what part of education speaks to you and how to move forward even when there are roadblocks.
(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

I say this in all my reviews, and I’m confident many viewers would agree, but if we had teachers like the ones at Abbott, our school years wouldn’t have been such a horrendous home at times.

How Melissa talks with Mya about her reading journey in Abbott Elementary 2×11 is a beautiful showcase of how kindness could make a student feel safe. There’s no sardonic judgment in her tone or any form of disappointment—she merely understands, and more than that, she cares profoundly. She cares about being the type of teacher who’ll ensure that her students know that it’s not about how much you read or how quickly, but it’s about finding the books that bring joy. It’s about learning to understand what part of education speaks to you and how to move forward even when there are roadblocks. 

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY - “Read-A-Thon” – The competition heats up between Melissa and Janine as their classrooms go head-to-head in a read-a-thon sponsored by a local pizza shop. Both teachers encourage their students to hit the books hard but face some unexpected obstacles on their path to pizza glory. Meanwhile, Jacob and Gregory join forces and attempt to get their student-podcasting club off the ground when “Abbott Elementary” returns WEDNESDAY, JAN. 4 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EST), on ABC.
(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

When teachers are gentle instead of scorning students, it makes it easier to understand that our struggles are normal. Only some students will bring straight As consistently, and we all work at our own pace. Understanding our means of operating and choosing to show grace allow us to want to excel more instead of building shells to hide under. There’s also much to be said about how Lisa Ann Walter’s frequent fire as Melissa simmers into a comforting warmth. The subtle change here brilliantly showcases her heart so sincerely that it evokes the same comfort in viewers.

She wasn’t just talking to Mya in this scene. She was talking to us, reminding each and every viewer that we’re still important to the grand scheme of life’s story no matter the pace we go through. For an episode that aired in the first few days of the new year, it’s a fantastic way to kick off everything with the understanding that our pace in working doesn’t make us any less intelligent or essential compared to others. As long as we search for joy in the things we’re doing, reaching completion, no matter when it happens, is just as valuable, no matter the timeline.

Abbott Elementary 2×11, “Read-a-Thon,” is an excellent showcase of how important it is to try and that acknowledging efforts matters just as much as congratulating wins. Yes, we could mock Jacob for starting a podcast, but the episode ultimately goes on to prove that even something that others might deem easy isn’t necessarily so. It’s a learning cycle for all of us, students and teachers alike, to consistently do the best we can and have people cheerleading us through it. There’s also something lovely about the fact that no matter how much you hear encouraging words and watch episodes as great as this, you could always use more. Words of wisdom and comfort shouldn’t be a one-time thing—they should be a constant. Practice makes perfect, doesn’t it?

Further Thoughts

  • Jacob: “This conversation is too slow for me now.” Me, after listening to an audiobook on 2.5x. (Which, by the way, also counts as reading, and don’t you dare let anyone tell you otherwise.) 
  • Melissa and Barbara’s friendship continues to be everything.
  • Also, Melissa Schemmenti for President.
  • No one runs as adorably as Janine does.
  • Janine and Gregory being awkward little ducks after “Holiday Hookah” and also talking about their dance at the podcast!? LET ME BREATHE! For journalistic purposes, I’d like answers as well…let’s go!

Now streaming on Hulu or ABCWhat are your thoughts on Abbott Elementary 2×11 “Read-a-Thon?” Let us know in the comments below.

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