How Families Can Celebrate Read Across America Day

This Saturday, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day so I wanted to share some reading resources, tips to help your children develop a love of reading, ideas for a Dr. Seuss party, and even an awesome freebie ($40 value)! 

Early literacy has been a cause that’s been really important to me since my college days as an early childhood education major, throughout my years teaching pre-k, and now as a mom. From volunteering to read to children in schools, to hosting book fairs to collect book donations, to sharing about the importance of reading here on this blog, I try to do as much as I can to promote literacy. Since I’ve been celebrating this special day for years I wanted to share ways you can get your family excited about this “holiday” and reading in general. The first annual Read Across America Day was March 2, 1998 and it’s celebrated on the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss. The purpose of Read Across America is to motivate children to read because research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

My boys recently developed a love of reading which makes me so excited because I loved reading as a child (and still do though I don’t have as much time to do so now). While both my boys have learned reading basics they are at very different places in their reading skills. With Lucas, who is a fairly new reader, we are working on retaining more information about what he has read so he is able to answer basic questions about the books. For Jacob, my goal is to find age-appropriate books he will enjoy at his reading level. Just this week he tested at almost a 12th grade reading level but he’s only in 5th grade so many teen books aren’t appropriate for him yet and books that are age-appropriate aren’t challenging enough for him. If anyone has any tips to help either of my boys I’d love for you to share them with me on Twitter or Facebook!

Anyway, let’s get on to the fun! Here are some ideas of how your family can celebrate reading this week and every day:

Throw a Dr. Seuss themed party

There is no better way to celebrate reading than with a party and of course, on Read Across America Day, we celebrate Dr. Seuss so I had to make that the party theme. Get Seussical party ideas here. All the ideas are based on Dr. Seuss books and characters. These Truffula Tree Cupcakes would also be fun to make with the kids.

Make reading fun

Another one of my favorite posts shared ways to encourage reading by making it fun! When I became a mom I vowed that I’d help my kids develop a love of reading like I had when I was a kid but, nowadays, kids just don’t seem to get lost in books like my generation did. I think that part of this is because there are so many distractions vying for their time, whether it’s screens or just busier lives in general. While we can’t eliminate all the distractions that are getting in the way of reading time, we can show them how much fun reading can be to encourage them to become life long readers. Here are some of my ideas to make reading fun:

PICK GOOD BOOKS.

This might seem obvious but kids are more likely to want to read if given books they enjoy (even if they are choosing to read books about superheroes in underwear or wimpy kids with diaries…. ) I’ve found that older kids are drawn to series and books with characters that they can relate to.

MAKE READING A GAME.

I’ve found when I make anything into a game it’s automatically more fun for kids (I can’t be the only parent who discovered that the cleanup “game” could even get children excited to do a boring task like cleaning up their toys!) There are so many ways to turn reading into a game when kids are younger but one of my favorites is to follow the likes of my child’s favorite YouTube stars and play the popular “try not to laugh challenge”. Challenge your kids not to laugh as you read the book out loud in as many silly voices as you can. Then let them take a turn trying to make you laugh!

READ IN NEW PLACES.

Part of the fun of reading is that books transport the reader to new places, whether real or imaginary. Bring that adventure to life by reading together in different places in your home or community. Spend a rainy afternoon reading inside a pillow fort in your living room and enjoy a beautiful fall day outside on a blanket in your backyard or in the shade of a tree at a nearby park. Books don’t just have to be read while sitting on a couch!

BRING THE STORY TO LIFE.

When I was a preschool teacher I found that the best way to get my class excited to read was to get them involved in the story. Whether they acted the book out, did a craft that corresponded with the story, or yelled out the repetitive lines in books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, they loved participating. Being part of the story is so much more fun than just listening to someone read it. One of my fondest memories of story time was when I was a teacher and had created a giant caterpillar out of posterboard and let the kids in my class take turns “feeding” him pretend play food as I read the story of the Hungry Caterpillar to them.

I share more ideas on how to make reading fun here.

Consider reading apps and programs

While nothing can replace the feel of a physical book, reading apps can be a new way to make reading fun. Our boys LOVE the smartphone app Epic which they were introduced to in school. This app turns reading into a game and encourages them to read for badges with honors like “I read two days in a row” and “I read 50 books”. While nothing can replace the feel of a paper book, I was impressed that this app makes my boys so excited to read that in the past (even when Lucas was reluctant to read) he’d spend hours at a time doing so!

Hooked on Phonics is also a great program for younger children (ages 3-8) and they are offering a freebie in honor of Read Across America Day. HOP is offering their digital app “Learn To Read” year subscription plan for FREE ($40 value; iOS, Android, Amazon, Web) on Friday, March 1st, 2019. To get your freebie go to their landing page hookedonphonics.com/read2019 and put in READ2019 in the promo code area on the HOP website for your free year subscription. (Please note this is ONLY valid on Friday 3/1/19 which is the day before Read Across America Day.)

Other resources:

List of summer reading programs that reward children for reading.

Reading is Fundamental Literacy Central Parent Resource Page

How to make a fun superhero bookmark

My 10 favorite books for preschoolers

25 fun writing activities for kids (that build reading skills as well)

I hope that I have given you ideas to make reading fun for your family that will help you celebrate Read Across America Day. Though March 2nd is the official “reading holiday” I encourage you to spend time reading with your children every day, whether it’s a short book in between errands, an afternoon of reading as you are cuddled together on the couch, or a chapter a night before bed. 

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