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.