National Read Across America Day falls on March 2nd every year. If you’re worried about forgetting the date, just remember– it’s also Dr. Seuss’s birthday!
Established in 1998 by the National Education Association (NEA), this initiative strives to make reading a fun activity for students while giving them a safe and encouraging place to further develop their skills. Since its establishment, actors, athletes, and other notable celebrities have used their platforms to support the cause.
We’ve rounded up ideas to get your students reading in celebration!
1. Design and decorate bookmarks
Start your Read Across America celebration by creating some festive bookmarks. Drawing and coloring are cognitive development activities, which makes this simple craft the perfect warm-up activity before diving into the books!
2. Create a word scavenger hunt
For young readers, give them a specific vocabulary word to look out for in the text, and have them come back for another once they find it. For more experienced readers, assign them a vocabulary word. This time it’s their job to find its synonym and/or antonym.
3. Have a spirit week!
Mark each day of the week with another theme– crazy hat day, favorite color day, etc., and choose a book to read aloud with your class that corresponds with each. Kids get to dress up in a fun, creative way, and it starts the conversation on theme in a book! Win-win.
4. Make reading different
Your students have probably read books at their desks, or maybe even a book nook in your room, but have they read in the dark with a flashlight in your room? Or, have they read at a campground (in your newly transformed room)? Set a campfire outdoors at night on your projector, invite students to bring blankets and pillows to make tents or snuggle up on the floor. Shut out the lights, pass out flash lights, and set the camping mood while allowing your students time to read. It makes reading in school different and exciting!
5. A surprise book activity
You’ve likely seen libraries and bookstores wrap novels with paper and a brief description on the front, often referred to as “blind dates with a book”. Bring that surprise to the classroom! Students will get to choose what they want to read without seeing the title or cover, and it will bring an element of excitement and mystery to the festivities!
6. Start a book drive
Read Across America is a great opportunity to teach your students the importance of giving back. Encourage students to bring old books with them to school so they can be donated. Teach them where their books will be going and why, as well as who will benefit from their generosity.
7. Invite a reader
Invite a special reader to your classroom for the day, or invite several for the week. The principal, older students, clowns, magicians, authors, parents, etc.–the opportunities are truly endless, and the students will love having a special guest in their classroom!
8. Meet an author
Invite an author to your classroom, even if it is just virtually! If that is not possible, listen to a story read by an author. During the height of the pandemic, authors began reading their own stories virtually to children stuck at home. The idea itself stuck, and many are still doing it. Check out your favorite children’s book author and see if they are offering any story hours or have pre-recorded readings.
9. Organize a classroom book swap
Send home a letter asking parents to send a book to school that they no longer want. Each child will bring a book to school, and they will swap their book with another student. They can swap once, multiple times, or it can be a game. However it happens, students will exchange their old book for a different one, which they can keep!
10. March Madness – with books!
This fun March Madness activity is the perfect way to extend your Read Across America celebrations throughout the entire month!
Did you know?
The NEA gives has book recommendations every month! Following a monthly theme, the NEA recommends books based on grade level (elementary school, middle school, and young adult) for your students to read. March’s theme is Celebrate Diversity, which is great to keep in mind as you plan your classroom’s Read Across America celebrations!