Rethinking Read Across America #sol21

Rethinking Read Across America #sol21

During the month of March I will be writing every day in the company of my fellow slicers in our writing community annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. This is Day #2.

March 2, 2021

I have to say I really hadn’t even considered Read Across America Day this year until a late Friday afternoon a little over a week ago when I met a kindergarten teacher in the workroom. In passing, she said, we are thinking about what to do for Read Across America Day now that we are stepping away from Dr. Seuss. We have all those hats…

When I arrived home, I looked up Read Across America Day and my searching revealed a great deal to think about.

About Dr. Seuss… I have to say that since my own children’s childhoods I have rarely thought about Dr. Seuss except to randomly quote pages from the text deeply ingrained in my long term memory. Occasionally students will bring a Dr. Seuss text from home to share and I will graciously listen to their ‘reading’. Year after year, I am pulled further away from the nonsensical text and closer to the rich beautiful texts and illustration available to us now. However, I do have fond personal memories of Dr. Seuss. My dad read those book over and over to and with me as I began to read… in 1965. Then those saved books began our own children’s journey into reading … in the early 1990’s. Much like I finally traded in my beloved red Prius for a new all wheel drive hybrid, I can trade in these old text to the upper shelf of my library with my grandmother’s reading primer. History…

Today there are so many books and amazing diverse voices to expose students to. I composed a recommendation of three possible replacements for ‘the way we have always done things’. At our school, we celebrate reading all March with our March Book Madness picture book competition so those sweet sixteen are ready and available for students to taste and discuss. Those diverse books are a wonderful way to celebrate books all through the month. In addition, the NEA’s recommendation of Tiara’s Hat Parade is a lovely approximation of the hats and book celebration of years gone by. This book and accompanying activities shine the light on women business owners and the history of black women milliners, a wonderful theme for women’s history month. I love this book paired with Oge Mora’s Saturday. Finally, Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson’s magical new picture book, Milo Imagines the World would lend itself to both reading and writing, a personal love. Pairing this with Christian Robinson’s videos, their former book, Last Stop on Market Street, and instagram images could be inspirational for many young readers and writers.

We can and should move on to a more enlightened and enlightening celebration of reading. We have been spending the last year and more promoting own voices and diverse characters. Let’s not be pulled back to history just because we have always done things this way. I look forward to freshening this celebration.

10 thoughts on “Rethinking Read Across America #sol21

  1. I have seen a few people comment on Dr. Seuss lately, but I have to say, I’m behind the times and not sure why people are moving away from using his books this year. I’ll have to look that one up. I have to say, I never really got into his books growing up; therefore, I never really read them to my classes once I became a teacher. That is, unless it was March 2nd and everyone was doing it. I much prefer richer, more meaningful texts, too. I’m always on the hunt for the newest picture books that pull at my heart strings or make me wonder. I like to mix in the new with my old favorites from Peter Reynolds, Patricia Polacco, and Kevin Henkes.

  2. I really appreciate your vulnerability in this post. It is so hard to look closer at a practice that has just been something we do (or read) and start to question it. Your school is lucky to have you as an advocate for equity and diverse literature!

  3. Susan, your thoughtful post makes me smile. While not a “reading” teacher, I’ve watched with interest as people have brought out amazing authors to share with students, authors with new perspectives, different ideas about our lives together, but most of all, a love of all that is writing.

    My hope, someday, we can put Dr. Seuss in his rightful place in history and continue that journey towards helping all our students love to read!

    Thank you for this opening slice! 🙂

  4. It is so hard to examine the things that we’ve always done and even harder to stand up and articulate the damage that can happen in the repetition of the doing. Thank you for your thoughtful slice this morning

  5. Bravo! I totally agree w/ the need to ditch the old not really a doctor guy and celebrate reading w/ new books. There are so many wonderful ones, and I’m thrilled to see some titles I don’t know. Dr. Seuss is to children’s lit what To Kill a Mockingbird is to YA. They are so ingrained in tradition. Uprooting them is not easy.

  6. I too had moved far from Dr Suess although I still encourage the magic of a 65 pages book like Hop on Top for a reluctant reader who needs a boost!
    There are many, many books that celebrate the diversity of America…and yet, Dr. Seuss is a part of our story…but when we celebrate reading in America…I want the list to be inclusive of ALL that America has to offer…

  7. Seuss is what first made me love rhyme and rhythm as a child… but as an adult I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Matt de la Pena read his work aloud at a workshop, with all the well-placed beats… and it was amazing. A celebration of reading should indeed be enlightened and enlightening – well-said.

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