Read Across America: Our Picks!
by Nicole Mancini, NJLA President
Read Across America is coming up! Since 1998, educators around the country have amplified the importance of reading on March 2. Librarians, parents, actors, grandparents, athletes, and political officials get in on the fun by visiting schools, issuing reading challenges, participating in local events, reading aloud to students, and even making proclamations and floor statements. It truly is a celebration of reading!
Here at NJLA, we know how important reading aloud is for students. The research has shown that read alouds significantly improve comprehension (Duke & Pearson, 2008), fluency skills (Massaro, 2017), and vocabulary acquisition (Rasinski, 2014). They also help build a sense of community within the classroom. When read alouds are combined with motivating activities and a diverse collection of books during Read Across America, the benefits are insurmountable. As noted by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, children need to experience books featuring characters like them as well as those who are different:
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books. (1990, p. ix)”
In 2018, Read Across America was rebranded to focus on just this, diverse books to help all children feel included. "Students need books that provide both windows and mirrors if we are going to create more readers, writers, and people who feel included and recognized, and who understand that the world is far richer than just their experiences alone." (NEA, 2018). This is truly a wonderful sign of process.
To help you prepare for an incredible Read Across America, we will be highlighting some of our favorite books each day beginning February 22 both here on the blog as well as on social media. We hope that you will consider sharing these stories with a child. Happy reading!