WASHINGTON — For 25 years, NEA’s Read Across America has raised awareness about the importance, value, and fun of reading. While NEA’s Read Across America celebrates reading year-round, March 2 is Read Across America Day — a special day to call attention to the efforts of educators, parents, and others who motivate and teach children to read. With an estimated 45 million people participating, Read Across America Day is the biggest reading celebration in the country.
“On NEA’s Read Across America Day, we thank the students, parents, educators, caregivers, librarians, authors, and members of our community who take the time today and every day to celebrate the joy of reading!” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “As we celebrate 25 years of NEA’s Read Across America, let’s renew our commitment to defend the freedom to read. All students deserve the freedom to read books as diverse and complex as the world in which they live. When they have access to books that include characters — by authors — of all races, genders, and backgrounds, students will discover their own voices and learn from the stories and voices of others.”
This year, NEA is championing the power of diverse books by launching NEA’s Read Across America Diverse Book Challenge. Educators, parents, students, and book lovers of all ages can join by following just five easy steps, shared in this video by Read Across America Ambassador Marley Dias, the powerhouse beyond the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign.
NEA also created Classroom Resources to Celebrate the Freedom to Read This online resource page provides educators with posters, bookmarks, stickers, and more to help them show their support for banned books and promote the freedom to read in their classrooms.
“Books are for all of us. When politicians ban books, censor lessons, or erase people from the history books, they rob students of an honest and accurate history that enables them to learn from the mistakes of our past to help create a better future,” said Pringle.
NEA members are celebrating Read Across America on March 2 and throughout the year. They are hosting events and activities in all corners of the country. The Connecticut Education Association teamed up with University of Connecticut basketball legends Scott Burrell and Morgan Tuck as well as super climber Nina Williams, as they share their love of literacy to kids across the state and explain how reading helped shape their careers.
“Just seeing the athlete that they look up to in a different realm gives students a sense of awe, to see a sports hero who also loves to read is really inspiring,” says Joslyn DeLancey, CEA’s Vice President and the President of the Connecticut Education Foundation. “Sometimes kids think they can be successful only in one area, as a student, or as an artist, or as an athlete, so meeting these heroes and learning that they loved school and reading really lights a spark.”
“When books are banned, it limits access to student learning and understanding the world around them,” DeLancey says. “When we ensure kids are exposed to books and can make their own choices to read books that represent them it’s critical to their development as people. That’s why Read Across America is more important than ever.”
Below are some of the ways in which parents, educators, and students can jump into stories with NEA’s Read Across America!
- Discovery Education is hosting a virtual read-aloud on March 2, featuring writer and activist Alice Walker reading her powerful new book Sweet People Everywhere. Click here for additional information.
- The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will host free virtual Read Across America readings on March 2, featuring four diverse aviation-themed books for second- and third-grade students. Click here for more information.
- Reading Is Fundamental is hosting a Rally to Read virtual event on March 2 with Barnes & Noble, featuring notable authors Naaz Khan and Peter H. Reynolds and hosted by 2021 Time Kid of the Year Orion Jean. Click here for additional information.
- Books Kids Love. What do these books have in common: Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour; The Secret Battle of Evan Pao by Wendy Wan-Long Shang; and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas? NEA recently asked educators to share book titles that are popular with their students—and these titles are included in this list of Books Kids Love.
“Let’s celebrate a nation of diverse readers and the freedom to read — not only on Read Across America Day but all year long,” said Pringle. “Take NEA’s Read Across America Diverse Books Challenge and share stories with kids of all ages that are as diverse and complex as the world we live in. Together, we can make lifelong readers of the kids in our lives by continuing to read more diverse and inclusive books in the months and years to come.”
Launched in 1998 by the National Education Association and guided by a committee of educators, NEA’s Read Across America is the nation’s largest celebration of reading. This year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read via events, partnerships, and reading resources that are about everyone, for everyone. The titles and resources featured by NEA’s Read Across America include books that students can see themselves reflected in, as well as books that allow readers to see a world or a character that might be different than them.
Keep up with the conversation: #ReadAcrossAmerica
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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org.