Students reading at the library!Libraries have participated in Read Across America since its inception in 1997 by the National Education Association as a celebration to encourage and inspire children to read. At first it was observed the school day closest to March 2nd, which is the birthday of Dr. Seuss. It grew to a week and then a year-round program and has evolved to be a much more responsive and inclusive event.

Recent studies have shown that some Seuss materials have been criticized for the way they portray people of color. You can read more about those studies here. NEA has transitioned the theme and activities to be more inclusive and modern, to ensure all students feel respected, valued, and included. The new mission for NEA’s Read Across America is “Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers” and new events and recommended book lists reflect the exciting new vision.

Of course, many students still enjoy reading Dr. Seuss classics and we celebrate his whimsy by enjoying school-wide events such as green eggs and ham breakfasts, goofy hats, and fun costumes. This creates a fun atmosphere to remind students that reading is joyful and exposes them to a world outside their own. Read Across America also provides students with opportunities to explore new books and connect with old favorites.

If you want to learn more about NEA’s Read Across America, check out Ask your child what fun activities and events are happening in their classrooms and libraries. When your student returns home after visiting the library, ask to see what they borrowed. Read with them or have them share thoughts on the story. Encourage your student to try new books and read outside their normal genre! Read Across America is a great opportunity to find new and diverse books to broaden our perspective and also find joy in reading.