National Read Across America Day!
Yesterday was National Read Across America Day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day. The day is celebrated annually March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’s birthday, unless the day falls on a weekend, in which case it is held on the closest school day. This is because the event is a part of an initiative by the National Education Association to encourage childhood reading, and many events are held in schools across the nation. The initiative doesn’t end with Dr. Seuss Day, and parents and educators are encouraged to use the resources on the Read Across America website.
Often events for the day are centered around elementary school-aged children, but that doesn’t mean that high schoolers are excluded. This past September the organization rebranded its logo and mission to teach students of all ages and backgrounds, based around the mission of “Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers”. Each month Read Across America promote a book to read in classes; recently they’ve expanded their library so that their calendar features books for middle schoolers and young adults. The collection of books featured are from some of the most diverse authors and feature diverse characters. This is important because students all across America should feel featured in the books that they read in class.
Elementary students are excited to read and love the process, yet oftentimes there is a rapid decline in “fun” reading from youth as they progress through their education. Unfortunately, this means there are so many benefits to reading being missed. According to Duxbury Public Schools, in Massachusetts, benefits of reading in high school can include: it serves as a mental exercise, it improves concentration, it develops empathy, it allows students to learn about new perspectives, and it is a great coping method and way to relax. With all these benefits students are missing on opportunities to grow, but reading in high school is often viewed as a chore. Changing how we talk about reading, as more than a class assignment, will allow young adults to relearn how to love reading, and this all starts in the classroom. Open class discussions on books that feature relatable characters often spark the most joy in high schoolers, thus promoting independent reading.
In addition to in-class conversations, high schoolers can reconnect with books in various ways. Volunteering to read to children or the elderly in buddy-reading programs are a great way to give back to the community and be a part of promoting childhood literacy. Take some time to go through books from middle school and elementary school to donate to local organizations, such as the NC Book Harvest. Other books that aren’t being read or have already been read can be exchanged at local free libraries; Apex has one on Salem Street that is constantly filled with good reads.
Overall, Dr. Seuss Day is a day of fun and celebration across America promoting childhood literacy. The fun doesn’t end with fifth grade though, and there are tons of ways for high schoolers to get involved. Educators across the country are also moving to celebrate the day in more high schools. Reading shouldn’t be viewed as a necessary evil for a class grade but rather as a relaxing activity to enjoy during free time.