It’s a day all about reading and a day that warms a teacher’s heart. Of course, we’re talking about Read Across America Day, the chance to drop everything and read (oh wait, that’s another holiday …). Planning out your Read Across America Day activities and looking for fresh ideas, plus this year’s theme? We’ve got you covered!
What Is Read Across America?
Read Across America Day is considered the largest day of reading here in the US, but how much do you really know about the origins of the national holiday? Started in 1998 by the National Education Association, Read Across America originated as Dr. Seuss Day, a day when kids ate green eggs and ham and donned giant Cat in the Hat hats.
These days the NEA has separated Read Across America Day from the controversial author, stating “NEA recognizes the need to work with a more diverse array of organizations and publishers to fulfill this need, and the Read Across America brand is now one that is independent of any one particular book, publisher, or character.”
Instead the day has become a chance to read a variety of diverse books featuring a diverse array of characters that better reflect the make-up of the American population.
When Is Read Across America Day in 2022?
Because it originated as Dr. Seuss Day, Read Across America Day is traditionally held in early March on a school day close to the author’s birthday. In 2022, Read Across America Day will actually fall directly on Dr. Seuss’ birthday – March 2 — putting it right in the middle of the school week on a Wednesday.
The day will also help kick off National Reading Month, which extends through the month of March.
Read Across America Day Activities for Kids
Hold a Read-a-Thon
Tell students they can dress in their PJs and bring a pillow to school along with their favorite stuffed animal and a pile of their favorite books for an all-day read-a-thon! To keep kids on task throughout the day, set a timer for a break every 20 minutes and have students do a book-related activity such as:
- Draw a character from the book you’re reading and share some traits of that character.
- Make a prediction about how you think the book will end.
- Share three events from the book and make an inference about how you think the character is feeling during each (this template can help them form their thoughts).
Build Out Your Bookcase
Looking to add something new to your bookshelf this Read Across America Day? Here are some of our favorite children’s books by theme!
- Books for Teaching About Character Traits
- Books About Love
- Books for Teaching Procedural Writing
- Books by AAPI Authors
- First Day of School Books
- Age Appropriate Books for Teaching About Body Boundaries
- Books to Hook Reluctant Readers
- Engineering Books for Kids
- Books for Teaching Persuasive Writing
- Books With Female Protagonists
Make Their Books Come Alive
Create the characters from some of their favorite books in craft form, like these colorful chameleons from Leo Lionni’s A Color of His Own. Get the instructions, plus crafts inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, and more!
Create a Character Crime Scene
Make the entrance to your school library or maybe even the cafeteria into an engaging who-dun-it mystery by staging “crime scenes” from their favorite books. For example: Someone has eaten all the cookies, and what’s that (?) … it looks like there are mouse-sized footprints. It seems like someone gave a mouse a cookie!
“Pop” Up Your Bulletin Board
Looking for the perfect bulletin board to get kids excited about Read Across America Day? With the popping bubble toys craze still hot, hot, hot, this Pop Into a Good Book bulletin board from K-5 media specialist Erin Wallace is an absolute must! Check out more of Wallace’s school literacy activities on her Instagram, @librarydunn.
Or set up a display with some of these reading-themed puns:
- I Read a Latte — Surround the words with little coffee mugs
- This School Dives Into Reading — Have fish dive into a book!
- We Got Caught Reading — Create a spider web, and add a book cover each time you read it with your class
- Reading Takes Us Places — Add a map of the US
- Reading Makes You Sharp — Add cactus cut-outs!
Reading Scavenger Hunt
Send students on a reading quest with a scavenger hunt! Let them loose in your classroom library or the school library to find books to help them complete the hunt. Grab our team’s reading scavenger hunt template for the perfect Read Across America Day adventure!
Set a Reading Goal … and Slime the Principal
How many books can your class read on Read Across America Day or during Reading Month? Work with your students to pick a goal, and ask your principal (or another administrator) to help you creative an incentive. Will they agree to be slimed if your class can make their reading goal? Or maybe they’ll kiss a pig?
Get an easy peasy slime recipe if slime is the name of the game!
Set Up a Classroom Book Swap
You know just how expensive buying new books for your classroom can be (psst — we’ve got some ideas for getting free books!), and adding books to a child’s shelf at home can be equally challenging for parents. Set up a classroom book swap so students can get new books for free!
Encourage students to bring a book (or several) from home that they’ve already read and are ready to part with. Set up a swap meet and allow students to browse the selections to find a new book to take home! If you know any teachers who are headed toward retirement or made a big grade change this school year, you might want to ask them if they’re divesting themselves of books that can be added to the swap options for students who don’t have one at home to bring.
Learn the Parts of a Book
Read Books by State
Use this fun site to find kids’ books set in different states around the US to truly “Read Across America”! Or set up your own system for reading one book set in each state.
Hand Out Bookmarks
If we had it our way, we’d make every gift-giving holiday a bookmark-giving holiday. They’re just so useful and make reading that much more fun for kids! But wait, why are bookmarks on a list of Read Across America Day activities? Because these crafty corner bookmarks double as a fun activity!
- Make googly-eyed monster bookmarks
- Hit the barnyard to create chicken and fox bookmarks
- Get super with superhero bookmarks!
Or pick from dozens of already made bookmarks — just click and print!