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Read Across America in January

Place students, their family histories, experiences at the center of the learning process and help them learn from their own heritage.

Offer students books that celebrate a wide range of cultures, languages, and experiences as well as their own. Help them to develop a better understanding of the many differences among cultures with opportunities to meaningfully interact with people whose heritage is different from theirs.

For Younger Readers

In Going Home, Coming Home by Truong Tran and illustrated by Ann Phong (Children's Book Press, 2003) a young girl discovers she can call two place home when she visits her grandmother in Vietnam.

Discuss and explore:

Collaborative Classroom has created a guide for this title featuring discussion questions and activity ideas that will help students compare their own experiences and emotions with those of the main character. Have students explore further and connect to the main character photographs.

For Older Readers

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar (Candlewick, 2016) explores twelve-year-old Carol's feelings about her family, heritage, and cultural roots after she spends a summer with her grandfather.

Discuss and explore:

Let students get closer to the wonders of the New Mexico desert that Carol explored and talk about the likelihood of an actual oasis. Continue discussion about the novel discussion guide by the publisher.

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015) follows the misadventures of Naila, who travels to Pakistan to visit family and discovers that her parents have promised her hand in marriage to a man she has never met.

Discuss and explore:

A look at resources from National Geographic can help introduce students to Pakistan before reading the book. Have students further explore the themes of culture, identity and family life using the discussion guide by the publisher.

Engaging Readers of All Ages

Get students thinking about their origins and family stories. Have them interview an older relative such as a grandparent or great aunt or uncle who can share family memories. Have students craft open ended questions that ask for descriptions of family customs, past celebrations, vacations, or milestones as well as simple biographical questions.

Take advantage of technology to conduct interviews. StoryCorps, one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, now includes the free StoryCorps app. The app walks users through conducting an interview by providing all the necessary tools: help preparing questions, how-tos for recording conversations, and ways to share the finished product. Or have students record their interview as a video or using other web-based audio recording tools.

Additional Resources

Where I Come From, an EDSITEment lesson plan, gets students in grades 3-5 traveling through their family history.

Adapt the ideas from the National Museum of American History's Autobiography Through Objects to help students create a family history through images and artifacts.

Exploring Family History from Scholastic offers articles and lessons that explore ways to learn about families.

Students in grades 9-12 examine their own cultural backgrounds and United States culture through this lesson plan from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

Several titles featured in NEA’s Read Across America Resource Calendar are offered at reduced rates on the Firstbook Marketplace.

Edcommunities Groups

Collaborate with educators on this topic in the groups below.

Illinois Education Matters
Illinois Education Matters is a network for all practitioners in education - IEA members and non-members. This effort is designed to serve as a repository for professional development, tools, resources, and information on grants, conferences / workshops, etc. Imagine this as your one stop for all connections. If you have joined our group, please message me - letting me know that you joined. I do not get any information telling me you joined. Our membership is so large, it takes me forever to go through and see our new members. Thanks for your help. You can also join other active groups on edCommunities. Several IEA members are facilitators for edCommunities. Check out and join their groups, if interested. Mary Ann Rivera - Illinois ESPs Mary Jane Morris - Illinois Education Matters IEA Jillian Huber - Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th Jim Grimes - Higher Education Amy Kappele - Early Childhood Development & Education

Secondary Literacy
Do you want to inspire your students to think critically, to analyze works, and to use their imaginations on a daily basis? Do you want to explore ways you can integrate reading into writing curricula and writing into reading curricula in your high school classroom? Join us at the Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th group to share, explore, and discuss ways for teachers of all content areas to link these two important life skills together in order to help students get the most out of themselves every day.

School Integrated Pest Management
This group will provide information and resources for integrated pest management training and advice for all educators and school districts . Pest management is important, but often overlooked, part of school safety. Pests can cause stings and bites, and can trigger allergies. In addition, some pests pose health threats by spreading germs and filth. Un-managed pest problems can result in damage to school property, unsightly landscapes, and other unsafe conditions.


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Download the Read Across America 2017 Recommended Books Poster here (PDF).

Click here to download the 2018-19 Read Across America Resource Calendar and Poster!



Reading Rockets offers a wealth of research-based resources designed to launch young readers. It's for parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

Coming in 2019...

National Arts in Education Week
September 8-14, 2019

American Education Week
November 18-22, 2019

Coming in 2020...

NEA's Read Across America Day
Monday, March 2, 2020

National Teacher Day
May 5, 2020

National Teacher Appreciation Week
May 4 - 8, 2020