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NEA’s Read Across America

NEA’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading with the theme: Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers. 

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Launched in 1998 by the National Education Association (NEA), Read Across America is the nation’s largest celebration of reading.  Many schools, libraries, and communities of readers celebrate with an annual event on March 2, but NEA’s Read Across America also provides educators, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.

This year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources that are about everyone, for everyone.

NEA Read Across America logo

FAQs about Read Across America

When is Read Across America?

Celebrate Read Across America however and whenever you choose! NEA is excited to bring you Read Across America year-round to help you motivate kids to read, bring the joys of reading to students of all ages, and make all  children feel valued and welcome. The year-round program can fit reading fun into your calendar daily, weekly, or monthly and includes big celebrations of reading on March 2 and throughout National Reading Month in March.

Who is celebrating?

Across the nation, everyone can get involved in bring reading excitement to children of all ages. Governors, mayors, and other elected officials recognize the role reading plays in their communities with proclamations and floor statements. Athletes and actors issue reading challenges to young readers. And educators and principals seem to be more than happy to dye their hair green or be duct-taped to a wall to boost their students’ enthusiasm for reading.

How can I celebrate?

  1. Read books with kids and use Read Across America’s resources to daily promote the message there is room in our community for ALL readers. The world — and books — are filled with many different kinds of people. Getting to know them is interesting, exciting, and fun!
  2. Use Read Across America to help kids enjoy and relate to what they read by linking books and reading to other experiences in their lives and on the school year calendar. When everything from your Hispanic Heritage Month celebration to the 100th day of school to the science fair to Memorial Day includes books, guest readers, activities, and conversation about reading, you raise awareness about the importance, value, and fun of reading throughout the year.
  3. Make your community the place where Read Across America is on everyone’s calendar. When people make the time to read with children, children get the message that reading is important. Parents, members of your community, and local celebrities who make time to read at monthly or annual Read Across America celebrations help motivate kids to read and celebrate the diversity in their community and our country.

Try these ideas! 

In the section below, Diverse Books in the Classroom, you’ll find articles from Reading Rockets on selecting and using diverse books in your classrooms, libraries, and special programs.

You can also explore the book and activity suggestions on the Read Across America (opens in a new window) site and in the 2023-2024 calendar (opens in a new window) to bring Read Across America to your community. Contact your local school, education association, library, or bookstore about planning or participating in an event.

All Kinds of Ways to Play with Stories to Celebrate NEA’s Read Across America (opens in a new window) is a new toolkit with resources to help create space for storytelling of all kinds to be shared out loud, from oral history to personal stories to spoken-word poetry.

14 Big Ideas for Celebrating NEA’s Read Across America (opens in a new window) includes activities to bring the joys of reading to students of all ages, and make all children feel safe, valued, and welcome.

For some students this year, school will continue to be virtual. Here are 9 ideas for how to celebrate Read Across America safely (opens in a new window).

To help educators and parents make the most of the book recommendations and celebrate reading all year long, NEA has resources to support the development of book clubs (opens in a new window).

Where do I get books?

Find children’s book recommendations from Reading Rockets and Colorín Colorado in the section below: Diverse Books in the Classroom.

For more recommendations, visit Where to Find Diverse Books (opens in a new window) (We Need Diverse Books)

Visit the NEA page on the First Book Marketplace to find featured picture book, middle grade, and young adult titles selected for this year, as well as other high-quality titles. First Book makes these titles available at affordable prices to educators serving children in need. Sign up at First Book (opens in a new window).

Shifting from Dr. Seuss to diversity

NEA’s Read Across America has shifted away from being a Seuss-centric March event to a year-round focus on books that celebrate diversity (opens in a new window) and tell all children that they belong in the world and the world belongs to them. Recently, researchers have taken an honest look at Dr. Seuss’s picture books and greater body of work, exploring his use of racial caricatures and stereotypes. If you are interested in learning more about the research on and discussion around Dr. Seuss and his books, we recommend these resources:

Authors and literature experts on diversity in children’s books

“We need diverse books because …”

Diverse books in the classroom

Classroom and library resources from Reading Rockets

Recommended books from Reading Rockets

Visit Book Finder and search for books using the Diversity filters:

  • African American and African
  • American Indian and Alaska Native
  • Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic and Latino
  • Middle Eastern
  • Multicultural 
  • Neurodiversity
  • South Asian
  • Women and Girls

Resources from Colorín Colorado

Resources from the National Education Association

Award-winning books

Meg Medina, children’s author (Merci Suárez Changes Gears)

See the full interview with Meg Medina ›

Education professor and author Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop

See the full interview with Rudine Sims Bishop ›