Early March has two very popular recognitions observed by schools and educators around the country – Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss Day. Read Across America is an initiative initially launched by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1997 to encourage children to read more books and to get them excited about reading. The NEA organized the first Read Across America Day on March 2, 1998, and it has since been celebrated annually on that day. The program to date is the nation’s largest celebration of reading and it serves as a year-round initiative focused on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources that are about everyone, for everyone. March 2 has also become known as Dr. Seuss Day and serves as an observation of the late Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. Each year, classrooms typically celebrate the school day that falls on or nearest to that date.
This year, Read Across America Day/Dr. Seuss Day is Tuesday, March 2, and although many schools are still following a virtual format, there are many ways to recognize this day and the importance (and fun!) of reading — at any age. Apex Leadership Co. shares some fun ways that teachers, parents, and everyone can celebrate Read Across America Day.
Dr. Seuss Spirit Day
Who doesn’t love a dress-up day? Even if classrooms are virtual, dressing up for those online classes will certainly make the day more entertaining! Little ones will love this, but the big kids can get into the spirit too. After all, Dr. Seuss’s creative characters are loved by all ages and some are simply iconic. In addition to dressing up, material from Dr. Seuss’s books can be read aloud with students taking turns, or crafts based upon Dr. Seuss’s whimsical worlds can be done in art classes (or for at-home projects).
Take a Time Out to Read
Teachers and parents can encourage kids to take time out from screen time to enjoy some quiet reading time on March 2. Teachers that are leading a typical in-class format can allow students to go outside (whether permitting) or spread out throughout the classroom with a good book to enjoy for the last 20 minutes to a half-hour of the school day. Those leading virtual classrooms might invite students to “log out” in favor of some no-screen reading time. Parents can also encourage a “screen-free” evening with quiet reading time after dinner (complete with cozy blankets, hot cocoa, and snacks, of course, to make this activity more enticing).
In advance of Read Across America Day, parents and guardians can take their kids to the library or bookstore to stock up on some interesting reads. It’s also a good idea to encourage children to read a variety of books on a variety of topics to find something they truly enjoy. Reading might not seem enthralling if it’s something they have to do, but given the opportunity to find the right material that interests them, children may discover that reading is actually pretty cool! So, spend some time looking through the various types of books or search the library’s online catalog to discover some engaging topics.
It’s also important to find books at the appropriate reading level to avoid frustration, increase confidence, and build a love of learning.
The NEA website even has a monthly theme of topics (for example March’s theme is ‘Cultivate Compassion’ while May’s theme is ‘Develop Passion and Perseverance’) with suggestions for elementary school, middle school, and young adult readers with titles that tackle these topics.
Home in on a Habit
After Read Across America Day is said and done, parents and teachers can continue to encourage children to read for enjoyment — one page at a time! Working towards building a love of literature is a practice that is never too early, and never too late. Reading allows people to escape through fantasy and imagination, to educate themselves, and to discover other worlds, cultures, and peoples. The habit of reading is a wonderful way to wind down before bed (rather than staring at a screen) — for people of all ages.
Apex Leadership Co. invites readers of all ages to take some time this Read Across America Day to get acquainted with a good book. NEA offers additional resources and tips for celebrating this day on at www.nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement/read-across-america.