Celebrating Diversity with Books: Read Across America


Books on a book shelf.Read Across America was founded by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1998 and is the nation’s largest celebration of books and reading.

It is a great opportunity to promote and encourage reading, especially children. Initially, the celebration centered on the birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2nd; however, the holiday expanded to March to motivate people to read across the country with a theme of celebrating a nation of diverse readers.” 

Our family is taking this as an opportunity not only to read and talk about our favorite books but to learn more about our history and different cultures and to spend time together. We are also creating a book share with friends and rekindling books clubs with friends and family.

In addition, to make it more fun for my youngest child, who is turning five, we are incorporating some crafts and fun activities suited towards younger children. For my oldest two (12 and 10), we will base our celebration more on discussing books and what we’ve learned, as well as character studies.

Below is a list of ways we celebrate Read Across America 2022 and a list of book recommendations for children of various age groups.

To begin with, some book recommendations that emphasize the theme of diversity and exploring various cultures, take a look at the NEA website. There is a calendar, and each month you can check out a theme with book recommendations for elementary age, middle school, and young adult, along with reading-related important events and dates for that specific month. 

For example, the March 2022 theme is “Play with Stories” and includes books with various topics that include world travel, immigration and myths, and the perseverance of a young writer and storyteller.

Also highlighted is the fact that March is Women’s History Month, so incorporating this theme in book and story choices is a great way to celebrate this annual holiday as well.

For older elementary children and middle school students, we recommend the following books that my children read recently, and fall in line with the theme of learning about different cultures, but also learning about important historical events that tie in important life lessons:

1. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
2. Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen 
3. The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry 
5. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley 

We highly recommend “Read Around the World: 16 Books for Kids and Teens” on the Brightly website for great options for all age groups. My son, age 5, particularly enjoyed “Señorita Mariposa” by Ben Gundersheimer, which has beautiful illustrations and is written in both English and Spanish. This list incorporates stories with themes and cultures from all over the world.

Also, check out the links on the side of the page for other great recommendations such as “The 50 Best Books for 11 and 12-year-Olds,” a list of picture books, and a list of recommendations for 3-year-olds, among others.

Here is a list of other ways we are celebrating Read Across America:

1. Book Clubs with family and friends
2. Character Studies and story writing
3. Book share with friends and book donations
4. Reach out to a favorite author
5. Crafts: We got our idea from an online article, “Children’s Book Activities Kids (and Teachers) Love” There are various creative options, but we chose the craft inspired by “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. 

How are you and your family celebrating Read Across America this year?


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