Read Across America (RAA) always falls on Theodor Geisel’s birthday without coincidence. The goal was to create a day to motivate children to read and to celebrate the joys of reading. RAA has been linked to the classic Dr. Seuss books for years with schools dressing up as characters, sharing his work, and cooking green eggs and ham. Ever since Dr. Seuss has been linked to major criticism with allegations that The Cat in the Hat and other Seuss books are racist, the National Education Association let loose of Seuss. They want all kids to see themselves in popular culture. Now they are celebrating reading with diverse books during the event.
Even though a child who might bring in their favorite Dr. Seuss book to share with their classmates on their “Show and Tell” day should never be discouraged to share their love of a book, change can be good! This post is not to bash or support Dr. Seuss. Educators are trained professionals and should be trusted to use what is best for their students to promote reading with students. I personally used his work in the past to teach positive lessons about inclusion, social justice, and responsibility for years. However, I encourage you to look and listen to both viewpoints before you move forward with your reading week celebrations to form an intelligent conclusion about what types of books should be included in your week.
Read Across America Dress Up Day Ideas
Everyone loves to include dress-up days during the reading week. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Dress for Success
- Rainbow Day (Reading is Colorful… Diverse books)
- Hat Day
- Camouflage Day (read books about animals)
- Neon Day (Reading makes you BRIGHT… Science books)
- Wacky Day (Wear clothes backward, mismatched, crazy hair)
- Character Day (Dress up like your favorite book character)
- Pajama Poem Day
- Wax Museum Biography Dress Up Day
FRESH Read Across America Activities
My favorite reading celebration activity now is to have a Book Tasting!
This is where students get to read a little (a taste) of different book genres. You can use any books you have access to from the library. Students read them for a few minutes and then switch to a different genre. This does require a little prep to set up the room to look like a restaurant, but this resource can help you out! It is a fun escape room with the book tasting! You can have it low key with the printed placemat or go all fancy with students dressing nice and you dressing up as a hostess or waiter.
Wacky Week Ideas
Do you love Wacky Wednesday? Why not do a whole WACKY week of reading activities?
For math, have wacky reading word problems to solve. Invite students to create a wacky animal with different animal parts. Then, they can write about their animal with details. Using any rhyming book, have students create a wacky rhyme. Use mystery pictures of hidden objects that are out of place for students to find. Make a day of Where is Wacky Waldo and share those books. Mess your room up with an upside-down clock or socks sticking out of the tissue box, see if the kids even notice during the week.
Try a Wacky Digital Escape with your students! This one has riddles, puzzles, hidden pictures in art, and non-sense word activities. If you are virtual, let them wear their favorite wacky hat while they do the escape.
March Themed Activities
Finding reading resources that are March-themed can be used with any book during the week. You can do a reading Write the Room activity with words like library, spine, characters, fiction, etc… Rhyming words, nonsense words, St. Patrick’s Day-themed activities in any subject area can inspire reading across curricular. Students can take a reading pledge and get certificates or bookmarks to encourage reading. March is a great time to introduce reading about hot air balloons. The season for hot air balloon rides runs from April to October. Kids are fascinated with them! Curious Gorge has a book about hot air balloons. Others include The Great Balloon Hullaballoo, The Noon Balloon, The sky Above my Eyes, and My Hot Air Balloon.
Some teachers use a circus theme in primary grades to promote reading during the week celebration. Their activities included books about animals, popcorn, snacks during reading/writing time, animal and clown crafts, guest story readers, dress-up clown day, Write the Room activities where students look for book titles, and ended with a reading carnival with prizes and games.
What’s the Point?
The purpose of having Read Across America is to get your students reading! Not just to read, but to enjoy it, love it, and want MORE! Whatever theme you choose, make sure you are sharing your joy of reading books with your students. Then, watch them grow.
Read more about using Theme Days to Teach in Elementary
Let us know what activities you will be doing to encourage reading!