National Read Across America Day: History, Celebration
|National Read Across America Day. Photo: KnowInsiders|
National Read Across America Day honors the birth anniversary of famous American kids author Dr. Seuss. It calls all children and youth in every community across the United States to celebrate reading. It encourages them to read where ever they are.
When is National Read Across America Day
Each year, National Read Across America Day is celebrated on March 2nd, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. The annual event is part of Read Across America, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association. Since the event is designed to encourage reading in children and is fostered through the schools, when March 2nd lands on a weekend, the day is observed on the closest school day.
History of National Read Across America Day
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”- Dr. Seuss
Every year, the month of March is National Reading Month. The start of this is initiated with ‘Read Across America Day’ on March 2, which is also the birthday of one of the most beloved children’s book authors of all time — Dr. Seuss. Reading stories and antics about his wonderful characters is a rite of passage, and the perfect way to get children interested in reading books.
Read Across America Day is more so a reading program, which calls upon everyone to read and engage with children to make reading a more fun and interactive experience. From the time when the building blocks of our character are laid, to adulthood when we seek to escape from the humdrum of daily life in the pages of a book, reading plays an integral role in shaping us into who we are. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, it is more essential than ever to motivate children to read.
The National Education Association (NEA) has been leading the Read Across America initiative since 1998. Their primary purpose is to work for the betterment of public education. Reading has been promoted across the nation with events organized in libraries, schools, book clubs, and communities. Teachers and group organizers can also take a pledge and post their idea on the NEA’s website. This way, more attention and attendance is drawn to the event.
But it is not only teachers and librarians who are doing their part in creating another generation of readers, but celebrities as well. Ever since the day has been official, actors, sports stars, and other popular figures have used their platforms to spread the message of the joys of reading, and some have also participated in children reading circles to put a spotlight on this cause.
The tradition of National Read Across America Day
|Photo: The Desert Sun|
National Read Across America Day falls on the same day as the birthday of children’s book author Dr. Seuss so, naturally, it is a tradition to read his storybooks on this day. Parents, teachers, students, and members of society all come together to celebrate the joys of reading and to encourage it to become a habit for children.
Reading parties are hosted at homes, schools, and libraries. Local persons of interest or celebrities are sometimes present at these events. Alongside reading, tasty treats are served, mostly from books that are going to be read out on the day (like a variation of green eggs and ham). Book clubs are also started on this day to continue the reading tradition after the day is over. It is a great way for parents and children to socialize and share ideas and their favorite books.
How to celebrate National Read Across America Day
1. Throw A Reading Party.
Share a love for reading by inviting friends over for a Dr. Seuss themed reading party. Ask the attendees to dress up as their favorite Dr. Seuss character. And then get comfy with Dr. Seuss books, enjoy some Dr. Seuss themed snacks and talk about the timeless classics.
2. Cook up Some Reading Fun.
Have fun in the kitchen with your kids and serve up some green eggs and ham or make a tasty Cat in the Hat snack by providing kids with wooden skewers and red and white foods. Have the kids alternate the red and white foods as they put them on the skewer and let them enjoy the snack as you read aloud.
3. Oh, the Places You’ll Go.
In spirit of one of Dr. Seuss’ most popular books, map out all of the places you and your children have read or are reading about on a U.S. or world map. Inspire reading 365 days a year and keep the project going. Every time your child reads about a new location, he can mark it on the map.
4. Attend Local Events
|Photo: City of Aurora|
Visit your local library's website to see if they are hosting any events to celebrate. To keep the fun going, be sure to check out your library's event calendar. Many libraries host fun events throughout the year for families to enjoy.
Plan ahead for the library's summer reading program as well. This is a great way to keep your kids engaged and excited about reading. Be sure to also check with your child's teacher. Many schools also host fun events to celebrate.
5. Revisit With Your Favorite Childhood Stories
One of the true joys of being a parent is sharing the stories you loved as a kid with your own children. Revisit your favorite characters, settings, and stories. Discuss what about the story intrigued you and why it was your favorite.
Re-reading these treasured stories as an adult offers perspective and humor. Who knows? Your old favorites may just become your child's new favorites. Perhaps one day, they will look back on the memories you created and be able to share them with their own children.
Several years ago, I shared the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Series by Betty MacDonald with my son. It was incredible to revisit that upside-down house and introduce my son to the eccentric, kind-hearted Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. We both had a blast reading through the novels and chuckling at her creative, magical cures. This series quickly became one of my son's favorites and we devoured all six adventures in a single summer.
6. Listen to a Read-Along Online
YouTube is one of my favorite resources for so many different things. While searching for educational content a few years back, I came across several channels that hosted read-alongs of popular children's books.
Some creators are authors themselves, and others are teachers. You can do a general search by typing "children's book read aloud" into the YouTube search bar or look for a specific favorite. This would be a wonderful way to switch up reading time whether you have the physical book or not.
7. Donate Your Old Books and Buy or Borrow New Ones
If you're like me, you have a collection of books sitting on bookshelves collecting dust in random areas of the house and even more stacked in boxes or tucked away in closets. When you're a book lover, it can be hard to part with these treasured items. However, if no one is planning on reading them, it might be time to give them a chance for a new life.
Check with your local library to see if they are accepting donations. If not, check to see if your community has a book box where you could donate gently used stories. Pick out a few to save for grandchildren down the road and pack up the rest to be donated.
After that is done, either pick out a few new books to purchase online or head to your local library to see what they have. You could let your child pick out a few to purchase from the quarter store (if your library has one of those) or spend some time browsing the shelves to find something interesting to borrow.
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