Planning for Read Across America Day!

By Ruth Manna on February 9, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

Read Across America Day, March 2 (Dr. Seuss's birthday), is less than a month away, so now's a good time to start planning. In researching Read Across America Day I discovered wonderful ideas from dozens of creative teachers and numerous activities, printables, and certificates. Knowing how busy you are, I’ve gathered a bunch of the best resources below, to help you as you plan.

Read on to discover these resources and find out how my class celebrates Read Across America Day.



IMG_0975 Read, Read, Read!

While there are lots of activities students can do on Read Across America Day, the main idea is to get students interested and involved in reading. We already spend long literacy blocks teaching reading skills, but students don’t have many chances to read in school and even fewer opportunities outside of school. Some intermediate grade students have never read longer than ten minutes at a stretch. Read Across America Day is their chance! Students will be surprised to discover that they can read whole books or big chunks of books in one day.

Inform Parents Now

Now is a good time to send home a letter inviting parents to participate in Read Across America Day. Ask them to select a favorite picture book, not necessarily by Dr. Seuss,  either a book they especially loved as a child or one they’ve enjoyed reading with their children. I’ve been amazed by the interesting selections parents have made and the expressive way they read to students.

Photo: Poster of my students reading.

Create a schedule for parent readers. I usually have a parent or two first thing in the morning (on their way to work), at lunchtime, and again late in the day. This breaks up the day for my students. Have a special chair, a goofy Dr. Seuss hat, and a few extra picture books for parents.

Build Excitement in Students

Start planning with students a week or two before the big day. Let parents know what students will need to bring to school that day. The list may include:

  • Sleeping bag, quilt, or blanket roll
  • Pillow
  • Healthy snacks (no sugary desserts)
  • Water bottle
  • Books from home or the local/school library

I ask students to pack everything in a large, black plastic trash bag. This makes it easier to manage on a bus and to repack at the end of the day. Large canvas bags with handles work well, too. I suggest to parents that they may want to carpool on Read Across America Day.

Seuss2[1] The Big Day!

Push all the furniture over to one side of the room before students arrive. As they come in, help them find an area for their sleeping bag, pillow, snacks, and books. An organized system will make it easier to accommodate all the sleeping bags.

Reassure students that they’ll still have lunch, recess, P.E., and art or music. The rest of the day will be devoted to reading in their sleeping bags.

If students don’t read well enough to sustain themselves throughout the day, arrange for them to spend time "whisper reading" with you or with a special educator or other specialist. If they regularly receive special education services, they’ll likely be excused for part of the day. This will give them a break and a chance to move. 

Try It Again at the End of the Year

Traditionally, this has been a favorite day among my students. They plead, “When can we do this again?” I tell them we’ll have a second Read Across America Day during the last week of school, and we do!

Resources for Read Across America Day

The National Education Association (NEA) provides a number of resources to help build interest in Read Across America Day, including a reader's oath and a proclamation. They also have an entire page of information and printables about Dr. Seuss and Read Across America. It's also worth noting that Target stores partner with NEA and celebrate on Feb. 26 with a story time from 9:00–11:00.

Scholastic offers Read Across America suggestions on their site, and in an Instructor magazine article, "Celebrate Read Across America Day," teachers around the country share what they do in their classrooms. Scholastic's "Read Across America" and "Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!" printables are also fun.

For more Seuss-related activities, visit Random House Children's Seussville for teachers, then watch video clips of The Sneetches, The Cat in the Hat, and Green Eggs and Ham.





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You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant!

Karen, Check out my recent posts about the Iditarod and IditaRead. Your students might enjoy sponsoring an IditaRead at your school.

Hi Karen, Thanks for your post. Pillow Pets are a great idea, and stuffed animals too! It sounds like a fun, relaxed day. Isn't it encouraging to see students enjoying reading?! I'll check out your link.

Hi Ruth,

Thank you for all the wonderful resources for RAA. I love this day! Even my most reluctant readers love reading. I incorporated many of your links into my day.

My students brought in Pillow Pets and stuffed animals, their favorite books and lot of enthusiasm. We also watched the following YouTube video and sang along (I found the lyrics online):

I have been enjoying your posts. Thanks for sharing so many goodies! ~Karen

Shana, We want kids to experience reading as fun! Even second graders are capable of reading for a day. Having snacks, sleeping bags, etc., helps set the mood and add to the fun.

The great thing about Dr. Seuss AND reading is that it really is a holiday for anyone, at any age! You guys all have great comments and I am excited to get involved in my community! Thanks for the reminder of this holiday!


Kerin, What a great idea and what fun for your students! Thanks for sharing!

I also do an all day read-athon on Read Across America Day. One additional thing I do is to allow my students to invite a friend to come read with them for 10-15 minutes. This friend can be from another class, another grade, etc as long as it is someone in our school building. They love having a friend in their room reading with them.

Hi Katie, You could still invite readers to come in, a coach, administrator, guidance counselor, or parents. You could have students recommend their favorite books to one another. Students could still spend time reading.

I would be interested to hear how people do this with older students. When they switch classes every 50 minutes is there still a way to make it a reading event? All that stuff may get in the way, but I would still like to make it a special day somehow.

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