Saturday, February 2, 2019

Beyond Dr. Seuss: Ideas for Celebrating Read Across America

Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids! Are you considering moving beyond Seuss for Read Across America? You may have come across  this article from the Conscious Kid that is moving you to try something different this year.

While many of us have celebrated this event with Seuss-themed activities and books (March 2nd is his birthday),  you can definitely celebrate the love of reading in a million ways that don't involve Seuss! After all, he is one of thousands of authors! This annual event is a great opportunity to celebrate reading with students expose them to something new in the world of literature.

If you're looking for new ideas to try out at your school, read on! You'll find tons of activities and theme suggestions to help you plan a fun schoolwide event!

#1 A Read-a-thon

When do you have time to just read? When do your kids have time to just read? The best way to grow the love of reading is to spend time reading! A read-a-thon is a fun way to encourage all-day reading. There are a few ways you can do this:
  • Schedule a day of reading across your school. Everybody reads, all day in their classrooms
  • Schedule guest readers throughout the day. When there's a reader, kids listen to them read. When there's not a reader, kids read on their own or with their friends.
  • Guest teacher and faculty readers. Rotate teachers from one classroom to the next to share their favorite read alouds.
  • Read with stuffed reading buddies. Each child can bring a stuffed animal, or the teacher can supply some, to read with!
  • Read with human reading buddies! Schedule older students to read with younger students. 
  • Make it into a contest: have kids keep track of their reading by # of pages or books read. Each class can have a thermometer and, at the end of every hour, you can check and see how many pages or books have been read. Color it in to keep track!
  • Everybody reads. This means that, for a certain amount of time, everyone on campus will read. Principals, coaches, office staff - everybody reads in a visible place so kids can see it. You can have each person join a different class to make sure the kids know that everybody reads!
Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!

 #2 Book Battles

This would be a month- or week-long event. Choose several books and have classes read them. Have classes vote on them to determine a winner! If you do a Read-a-Thon (like suggested in #1), you can ask teachers to read the books during the day and have classes vote on them in the afternoon!

We did something similar with Dr. Seuss books a few years ago, but you could easily do this with any books you'd love kids to read! We provided each class with a tally sheet. Each book title was listed and students voted on their favorites. Then we used this data to make a bulletin board to represents which books we loved the most!

Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!

#3 Have an author study week

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of authors who your kids would love to get to know. Choose a great author and feature their books and activities around their books all week! You could also do this with a book battle (which I describe above in #2!) Here are a couple of great suggestions with books that could appeal to a range of ages.

Jacqueline Woodson writes about things that kids can relate to, while, at the same time, broadening their cultural experience and awareness. Books you could use to feature this author include The Day You Begin, The Other Side, and Each Kindness. Read about how you can use The Day You Begin here!

 Peter H. Reynolds would make an INCREDIBLE featured author for Read Across America. His books are accessible but powerful to a wide range of ages! Books by Reynolds that kids will love are The Dot, Ish, and The Word Collector. Just think of the visual arts connections you could make!

Allen Say teaches us to value our stories. Spending some time reading Allen Say books and having your kids share their stories would be an amazing way to spend the week. Books you could use to feature Allen Say include Grandfather's Journey, Tea with Milk, and The Bicycle Man.

Other fun authors could be Andrea Beaty, Kim T. Griswell, and Tad Hills.

Looking for some diverse children's authors to feature? Check out this list!

    #4 Create your own theme!

    You can choose an awesome theme of your own and build book experiences, crafts, and engaging days all around your theme! Here are a few ideas:

    Reading Adds Color to Our Lives: feature crayon activities and books like The Day the Crayons Quit, and Red: A Crayon's Story.

    Blast Off to Read Across America: use fun space-themed books like Rufus Blasts Off! and Mousetronaut, and meaningful books like Mae Among the Stars, or Hidden Figures.
    Reading Changes the World: Include books about changing your world like I Walk With Vanessa, Let the Children March, and Rosa. 

    Reading Helps Us Grow: Use books like The Gardener, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, and Grandpa Green.
    Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!

     #5 Host a Bookmark Contest!

    It's pretty easy to host a bookmark contest! We hosted one to celebrate the Grand Opening of our Reading Lounge! Here's how you do it:
    1. Create a template. We contacted our school district's print shop because we planned to have the winners of the contest printed and distributed to kids. They provided us with a template they wanted us to use. If you're printing and cutting in-house, you can use whatever size you'd like!
    2. Distribute the template to students who are interested in participating in the contest. Provide some basic rules about content, if it needs to be related to a theme, and what kinds of materials they used. Our theme was "Reading Helps Us Grow" because our reading lounge was garden themed. As for materials, we said pencils, colored pencils and/or crayons were fine.
    3. Set a due date, a place to turn in their entries, and remind students frequently about the date.
    4. Choose the winners. Once all entries are submitted, have a group of teachers get together to judge the bookmarks. Select as many winners as you'd like and have them printed, or print them on carstock and cut them out yourself!
    5. Distribute the bookmarks to the kids! We had trouble choosing, so we had a winner from each grade level. Students were able to choose which bookmark they wanted from the eight different choices!
    6. Feature the winners somehow: we made a bulletin board and announced it on our campus TV news. 

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    Are you looking for ideas for celebrating Read Across America without focusing on Dr. Seuss? This post includes activities that you can use for the whole week to celebrate reading with your elementary or middle school students. Fun themes, bulletin board ideas, and activities that share the joy of reading with kids!
     
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