Read Across America Day is celebrated on March 2, which also happens to be Dr. Seuss’ birthday! It was first celebrated in 1998 and has been an annual occurrence ever since. This day is meant to help get children and young adults excited about reading! Reading is one of the most important activities to do with your child. So this is an awareness day that is high on my list of priorities as an Early Childhood Educator. Grab some books and sit down with your child to explore the wonders of reading!
Ways to Celebrate Virtually
Nowadays, school is virtual. So to account for that the National Education Association has come up with some ideas on how to celebrate Read Across America Day in the current circumstances we all find ourselves in. United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County Volunteer Center is accepting volunteers to record themselves reading a book to share with classes through their private Youtube channel.
Favorites Book List: Read Across America Day
Books for Infants and Toddlers
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
This fun and rhythmic book introduces children to the alphabet! “a says to b, and and b says to c, see you at the top of the coconut tree.” As all the letters follow suit will there be enough room?
Hooray for You: A Celebration of Youness
Celebrating yourself and loving yourself as you are is an important thing to teach children from an early age! This book from Marianne Richmond focuses on celebrating yourself and what makes you you!
Love You Forever
Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
A story of a mother’s unconditional love, Love You Forever has touched the hearts of millions. Share the love with your little one today!
The Monster at the End of This Book
This book is a personal favorite of mine and my mother. When read with animation and energy, this fun interactive adventure is a blast for kids! Have them help you turn the pages to get to the end of the book while Grover continues to try and stop you! Ropes, wood and nails, brick and mortar… nothing will stop your child from enjoying this book!
The Wonky Donkey
Craig Smith and Katz Cowley
With fun illustrations and silly rhymes, this story brings a smile and a laugh to children and adults alike!
Elementary Level Books
E. B. White
This a wonderful book to read as a bedtime story to your kids! It is about the story of Wilbur, a livestock pig, and Charlotte, the spider who lives in the barn. This story teaches that true friendship is invaluable. Over the years, this story has entered the hearts of millions, share the love by sharing this story with your little ones!
A mouse takes a walk through the dangerous woods. In order to scare off potential predators he spins the wild story of the big scary Gruffalo! Imagine his surprise when he stumbles across the ACTUAL GRUFFALO! This story is super fun and shows the importance of respecting imagination!
Pig the Pug
Pig is a selfish and greedy little pug. He doesn’t like to share and is a bit of a bully! He doesn’t want to share his toys with his friend Trevor! Will he learn a lesson?
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz
You ever wake up and just know that it is going to be a terrible day? So did Alexander when he woke up with gum in his hair! Follow Alexander through the worst day of his life in this funny and much loved book that is a must for any child’s bookshelf!
The Bridge to Terabithia
This story is about two friends who create the imaginary kingdom of Terabithia. The main character, Jess Aarons, yearns to shine and be accepted by his peers and his father. He wants to be the fastest kid in the fifth grade and one day at recess he is defeated in a race by Leslie Burke, a girl who moved into the house next door. A friendship develops fast between them and they create their own world Terabithia. In this place, the two are able to grow and learn about how to get through and deal with the difficulties in their own lives.
Tragedy hits when Jess finds out that Leslie had drowned in the creek when she was swinging on the rope to get to Terabithia. Jess goes through the stages of grief and feels like he has to revert to the Jess he was before meeting Leslie. Eventually, he finds that the only way he can keep his new found sense of self – and Leslie’s memory – alive is to continue the fantasy of Terabithia.
The Harry Potter series is one that is easy to get lost in. The overall story of the powers of love, friendship, humility, and determination teach lessons that you can fall back on through your whole life. Some that I tend to fall back on often are:
Your biggest adversities reveal who you truly are
A life without love leaves you barely living
A mother’s love is the most powerful force in the world
It is okay to be weird or different
Being bold is beautiful
Those we love never truly leave us
Those don’t even cover everything there is to gain in reading this series. I (Tyler) am proud to be a Potterhead and admit my bias, but I am grateful for everything I have learned from this series and the comfort I found in the characters and the story.
The House on Mango
This story follows a year in the life Esperanza, a 12-year-old Mexican-American girl, who moves with her family to a new house on Mango street in Chicago. Over the novel, Esperanza grows and matures significantly over the course of that year. We follow with her as she makes friends, goes through puberty, develops her first crush, and endures a sexual assault. Through all of that, Esperanza begins to write – using writing as a way to express herself and to escape.
It is a moving and powerful story that I would recommend everyone read at least once.
Where the Red Fern Grows
This is a classic story that captures the bond between a boy and mans best friend, his two coon hounds Ol’ Dan and Little Anne.
R. J. Palacio
This story is about a 10-year-old named August Pullman who has a severe facial difference. Auggie has been home-schooled for all of his primary school years, but now his mom decides it is time for him to get a true school experience. The story is told from Auggie’s point of view as well as from the point of view of five other people central to the development and understanding of the story.
Young Adult Books
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Taking place in Germany during the Holocaust, this story follows the unlikely friendship that forms between Bruno, the son of a Nazi commandant, and Shmuel, a young Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz. Boyne uses the character development in this story to explore self-honesty, the guilt that silence brings, and most importantly the power of friendship.
A beautifully written, yet tragic story, I would label this a must-read for everyone!
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Johnathan Safran Foer
This is the story of Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old boy who embarks on a quest to find closure after his father’s death in the September 11th attacks. Through this story, Foer explores the difficulties of ambiguity, the ups and downs of familial relationships, and how when we deceive – even if we mean well – we unintentionally cause further harm to the people we are trying to protect.
Five Feet Apart
Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott, and Tobias Iaconis
This story follows two teenagers who fall in love, but cannot come within six feet of one another without risking their health, or worse… death.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven
This story follows the life and death of an amusement park mechanic named Eddie. A park ride breaks causing an accident that kills him and he arrives in heaven where he meets five people that had a significant impact on him while he was alive.
Looking For Alaska
Looking for Alaska is a teenage coming of age story exploring the questions of the meaning of life and the impacts of death through a main character who is fixated on both finding his purpose and legacy, and the last words of famous people.
13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why is an international bestseller and a powerful story that deals with issues that are big among teenagers today: bullying and suicide. It follows the story of a girl named Hannah Baker and the 13 reasons why she committed suicide.
While it deals with the dark subject matter, this book shows the importance of talking to the trusted adults in your life. I would encourage reading it together to open a conversation about these difficult topics and teach open and honest communication with your teen.
Favorite Authors: Read Across America Day
We can’t talk about children’s books without talking about Dr. Seuss. His books have been a mainstay in children’s literature since the 1940s. He created a world of cooky characters and fun rhymes that bring joy to kids all over the world. Some of our favorites include:
Wocket in my Pocket
Green Eggs and Ham
Horton Hears a Who
Eric Carle is a well-known illustrator and writer of children’s books who is loved and celebrated worldwide. His most well-known and beloved book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been loved by children all over the world and has been translated into 66 languages! His imaginative, bright, and unique artwork are unmistakable and a delight for children and adults alike.
Judy Blume has been writing novels for children, teens, young adults, and adults for over 50 years. Her children’s and young adult novels are well known and loved. Her books stand out from other children’s authors because they are honest stories about topics others steer clear from. Topics like school, bullying, racism, puberty, death, and sex; she explores these topics in an honest way that middle-grade to young adult readers can relate to. Some favorites include:
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
The Fudge Series
Roald Dahl was a man of many feats, but his most well known were his children’s stories! In 1961 he started on a literary path that would lead to dozens of characters and well loved stories that are known the world over. Some favorites include:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
James and the Giant Peach
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Shel Silverstein was a beloved children’s writer and poet. He had a style all his own and has touched the lives of children all over the world. His stories and poems have been translated into 47 different languages. My absolute favorites are The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends.
What are your favorite ways to celebrate Read Across America Day? Let us know in the comments!