10 Ways to Celebrate Read Across America Week

Saturday, 2 March 2019

If you search Pinterest for Read Across America week, you will find a bazillion activities around Dr. Seuss and his beloved books. No surprise there!

Yet, if you visit the NEA site, the organization that sponsors the event, you will find something very different!

Read Across America ideas and activities

This year's theme is Celebrating a Nation of Diverse readers, and challenges us to share literature that allows every child to "see themselves as the main character in a story."  

Here's what the NEA has to say about the purpose of Read Across America Week:
"Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school."

Not trying to be a "Grinch," but I do question whether a series of Seuss-inspired activities are really motivating children to read and discover themselves through books.

So I put together a list of a few ideas we might try that I think are closer to the original intent for Read Across America week:

Book Breaks

Most teachers have more books than they have time to read!  Pull together a collection of favorite read alouds  and set a timer to go off at various points during the week.  Each time the timer rings, do a quick book talk on one of these books to entice your readers.  Choose books you know they won't be able to resist, like Creepy Pair of Green Underwear! and place them in a special basket. Books that might have been stuck on the shelf, will now find their way into children's hands.

Read Across America ideas and activities

Reading Reunion

This is a school-wide event that is as much fun for the teachers as it is for the kids! At a designated date and time, invite children to visit their previous teacher's classroom for a reading reunion! Once they've arrived, share a favorite read aloud and ask them to share what they have been reading in their new grade.

Mystery Reader

Invite parents and/or school staff  to "pop-in" throughout the week and share their favorite books. Give children clues about the "mystery reader" or the book they are going to share to build anticipation.

Mystery Reader: Read Across America ideas and activities

Unwrap a Read Aloud

Looking for an excuse to buy some new books? Use gift cards, book clubs, or visit your favorite store to obtain some new read-alouds.  Wrap them or use gift bags to conceal their identity.  Enjoy opening them throughout the week and sharing them with children.  Once all the books have been opened, let children vote for their favorite! Consider purchasing an extra copy of the book, letting the children wrap it, and surprising another class with your new favorite.

Staff Favorites

Survey school staff members to find out their favorite read-alouds.  Gather copies from your school library and share them with children.  For added fun, have kids guess the staff member that goes with each book.

Book Picnic

If weather permits, pack a picnic basket full of books, grab a blanket, and head outside to enjoy some outdoor reading.  You might choose books about the outdoors such as Our Tree Named Steve or other nature-themed read alouds. 

Book Picnic: Read Across America ideas and activities

Book Tournament

Capture the "March Madness" fever with a book tournament. On the first day, read two books and let children vote for their favorite.  Do this for a total of 8 days (think Sweet Sixteen).  Next, move to the Elite 8 by pairing up the 8 winning books and asking children to vote for their favorite.  Repeat with the Final Four and Final Two to determine your book "champion."  Create "brackets" to keep track of the results and share with others.

Reading Rally

With this event, each teacher involved creates a special themed reading spot in their classroom such as a "beach," "campsite," or "bear cave" using props and books to showcase the theme. Classes take turns "traveling" to each room and enjoying some independent reading in a new setting with the themed books and props they find there.

Reading Rally: Read Across America ideas and activities

Book Tasting

Create a "dining" atmosphere in your classroom using tablecloths, placemats, napkins, flowers, etc., and display books for children to "taste test." Invite them to rotate through each "place setting" and browse the selection presented there.  Provide time for children to discuss their "samplings," and share the ones that they found most appealing!

Book Swap

Invite children to bring in books from home to trade with others.  This can be done school-wide or with just your own class. For every book the child donates to the "swap," they are able to select the same number for keeps!  Check your own collection for books you could donate so that all children may participate.  

A Fun Week Ahead

Hope you found some ideas to make the most of Read Across America week!  We'll still be making those cute red and white striped hats, but keeping the focus on growing our love for books and building a community of readers!

Thanks for stopping by!

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