Read Across America Day

Read Across America Day without Dr. Seuss | everythingjustso.org

Read Across America Day was created as a way to celebrate and encourage reading among children each year. From the NEA's website:

"Let's create a day to celebrate reading," the group decided. "We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday." And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.

Typically, when you think of Read Across America Day, you think of Dr. Seuss. And that's exactly how I chose to "celebrate" the day when I was working with young students. Dr. Seuss read alouds, crafts, class-created door decoration competitions - you name it and we did it. 

But when you are teaching in an upper elementary classroom, Dr. Seuss just doesn't cut it anymore. And when you're teaching older students, your time seems a bit more precious as those 42-minute periods fly by much faster than those 140-minute blocks. When you take time out of your normal schedule to celebrate a "holiday" like this one, you want whatever activity you're completing to be meaningful and worthwhile. 

Last year, I held an old fashioned "read-in" for my students. I had little time to plan anything extravagant, and we were in desperate need of an extended period of reading. So, we did just that - read all day. I wanted to honor the importance of reading by not filling our time with extra activities and just provide students with the opportunity to relax and enjoy great books.

I checked out bags and bags of books from our school's library and set them out in various spots around my room. Each book had at least four copies so that more than one student could read each title at a time. Books were of various levels and topics and a few were well-loved texts from studies that year.

Next, I made a hundred copies of our in-class reading log so that we were well prepared to record all of that glorious reading! The intention of the logs wasn't to keep the kids accountable or give them something to do. Rather, I wanted them to see just how much they could read when devoting a decent amount of time to it. At the time, several students were struggling with book abandonment, low interest in reading, excuses for not being able to complete homework logs, etc. That day's celebration was meant to make students feel successful for completing not one, not two, but several texts - and having a record of completion to show for it.

When students arrived, I explained that today we would do nothing but read. They would begin by choosing a partner and then going together to select their first book. How they read each book was up to them – paragraph by paragraph or page by page. When finished, each student would record the book on his own reading log and then return the book to the counter. Then it’s off to find a new partner and book! Without rushing or trying to compete with others, I encouraged students to read with as many of their peers as possible. I wanted to participate in the reading too, so I made myself available as a partner at our front table.

You can find more information about our day (and some videos of us in action) here and the follow-up extension lesson here.  

If a simple read-in isn't your thing, here are a few resources to make your day complete: 

1. The NEA site is full of links to help plan your event and participate in the Year of Reading.

2. This NEA link takes you to a long list of printables, such as certificates, posters, a poem, an activity booklet, and an oath for students to sign. 

3. You and your students can read the Presidential Proclamation about Read Across America here

4. This link takes you to the official Seussville Read Across America site for educators where you can find printables and activities that accompany Dr. Seuss's books. 

5. If you teach in Ohio, you can enter to win OEA's Read Across America Day video contest by uploading an original video that boasts about your love of reading. 

 

For even more resources, visit my everything: Holidays Pinterest board:

 

Do you have a special tradition on Read Across America Day in your classroom? Tell me about it - I'd love to hear!

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