Read Across America Day, March 2 (Dr. Seuss's birthday), is less than a month away, so now's a good time to start planning. In researching Read Across America Day I discovered wonderful ideas from dozens of creative teachers and numerous activities, printables, and certificates. Knowing how busy you are, I’ve gathered a bunch of the best resources below, to help you as you plan.
Read on to discover these resources and find out how my class celebrates Read Across America Day.
While there are lots of activities students can do on Read Across America Day, the main idea is to get students interested and involved in reading. We already spend long literacy blocks teaching reading skills, but students don’t have many chances to read in school and even fewer opportunities outside of school. Some intermediate grade students have never read longer than ten minutes at a stretch. Read Across America Day is their chance! Students will be surprised to discover that they can read whole books or big chunks of books in one day.
Inform Parents Now
Now is a good time to send home a letter inviting parents to participate in Read Across America Day. Ask them to select a favorite picture book, not necessarily by Dr. Seuss, either a book they especially loved as a child or one they’ve enjoyed reading with their children. I’ve been amazed by the interesting selections parents have made and the expressive way they read to students.
Photo: Poster of my students reading.
Create a schedule for parent readers. I usually have a parent or two first thing in the morning (on their way to work), at lunchtime, and again late in the day. This breaks up the day for my students. Have a special chair, a goofy Dr. Seuss hat, and a few extra picture books for parents.
Build Excitement in Students
Start planning with students a week or two before the big day. Let parents know what students will need to bring to school that day. The list may include:
- Sleeping bag, quilt, or blanket roll
- Healthy snacks (no sugary desserts)
- Water bottle
- Books from home or the local/school library
I ask students to pack everything in a large, black plastic trash bag. This makes it easier to manage on a bus and to repack at the end of the day. Large canvas bags with handles work well, too. I suggest to parents that they may want to carpool on Read Across America Day.
Push all the furniture over to one side of the room before students arrive. As they come in, help them find an area for their sleeping bag, pillow, snacks, and books. An organized system will make it easier to accommodate all the sleeping bags.
Reassure students that they’ll still have lunch, recess, P.E., and art or music. The rest of the day will be devoted to reading in their sleeping bags.
If students don’t read well enough to sustain themselves throughout the day, arrange for them to spend time "whisper reading" with you or with a special educator or other specialist. If they regularly receive special education services, they’ll likely be excused for part of the day. This will give them a break and a chance to move.
Try It Again at the End of the Year
Traditionally, this has been a favorite day among my students. They plead, “When can we do this again?” I tell them we’ll have a second Read Across America Day during the last week of school, and we do!
Resources for Read Across America Day
The National Education Association (NEA) provides a number of resources to help build interest in Read Across America Day, including a reader's oath and a proclamation. They also have an entire page of information and printables about Dr. Seuss and Read Across America. It's also worth noting that Target stores partner with NEA and celebrate on Feb. 26 with a story time from 9:00–11:00.
Scholastic offers Read Across America suggestions on their site, and in an Instructor magazine article, "Celebrate Read Across America Day," teachers around the country share what they do in their classrooms. Scholastic's "Read Across America" and "Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!" printables are also fun.