Washington—As students and educators return to school, NEA’s Read Across America has released its new list of diverse books and related resources for the 2023-24 school year. These 36 titles for readers in preschool through high school are featured in a digital calendar that promotes Read Across America’s yearlong celebration of reading and its dedication to building a nation of diverse readers.
“Across our country, educators are thrilled to welcome their students for the new school year. As students open their classroom doors and textbooks, they also unveil a world of new ideas, possibilities, and skills they need to help them reach their full, brilliant potential,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “NEA’s Read Across America book recommendations for 2023-2024 reflect our commitment to reading diverse books throughout the year amidst a full-court press by some politicians to censor what our students can read and what educators can teach. Preparing students with more knowledge, not less, is essential for an America that prides itself in having a free marketplace of ideas. Learning about the cultures and experiences of the gorgeous mosaic of people in our diverse nation who are part of the story of America is a necessary part of our continued journey toward ‘We the People.’ Let’s make reading diverse books part of who we are as a nation and as readers!”
The unveiling of the latest list of NEA’s Read Across America recommended books occurs amidst a recent wave of laws aimed at censoring educators and banning books. Today, more than 25 states have introduced or passed laws to censor teachers from speaking about race, gender, and racism and to deny students the right to a truthful and honest education. These dangerous attempts by some politicians to stoke fears and rewrite history not only diminish the injustices experienced by generations of Americans, but they also prevent educators from doing their jobs and challenging students to achieve a more equitable future. As a result, many educators are removing books from their libraries, not engaging in classroom discussion with students—or simply walking away from the profession they love.
NEA’s Read Across America recommended books include a wide selection of genres and formats—from titles such as “Maybe an Artist” by Liz Montague to picture book biographies like “Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series” by Traci Sorell to short story collections such as “You Are Here: Connecting Flights” by Ellen Oh. The recommendations are located at www.nea.org/readacross along with suggestions for activities, questions for discussion or reflective writing, a curated list of related resources, and even more titles to try.
Although these titles have been reviewed and selected by NEA members, classroom censorship laws in many states may mean that teachers and librarians need to evaluate any Read Across America book recommendation before sharing the title with their students. While NEA strives to make sure every student has access to age-appropriate books that show they are reflected and respected, and vehemently opposes efforts to limit students’ access to such books, NEA urges educators to comply with state and local laws and policies that may limit what books they may teach and recommend to their students.
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 through 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.