4 Ways to Make Read Across America More Diverse

I’m so excited to share 4 ways to make Read Across America more diverse! Can you believe that it is almost March? March means a few special events; one of those being Read Across America! March 2nd is the day that we typically celebrate the writings and musings of one, Theodore Seuss Geisel. His stories are fun and countless children, including my own, have learned to read through his stories.

So, learning that he was not someone who appreciated and valued other cultures (putting this very politely) was heartbreaking! I’ll share Instagram posts with you below so you can read more for yourself. I love the idea of making Read Across America more diverse! What a great opportunity to highlight the beauty that comes from learning about others from all walks of life.

An image of 9 children that are Black, White, and Hispanic they are all standing side by side.  They are standing against a blue sky with white clouds.
4 ways to make Read Across America More Diverse blog post image.

Read Across America: A New Way

In light of discovering Theodore Geisel’s beliefs about Black, Asian, and Jewish people, the National Education Association (NEA) chose to move this movement in a new direction. You can learn more about it here. Now, the NEA focuses on diversity and embracing others as the inspiration for Read Across America day. Actually, they have listed a calendar and recommendations for celebrating diversity and diverse cultures throughout the entire year! Here is a post that I shared that has other suggestions for honoring this literacy-centered event.

So, instead of focusing on Dr. Seuss, I would love to challenge you to add a splash of diversity to your celebration. Let’s use these 4 ways to make Read Across America more diverse this year.

An image of 5 children sitting on the stairs inside of a building reading books.  There are 2 boys sitting near the top and 3 girls sitting on lower steps.  2 girls are White, one is Black, one Black male, and one White male.  They are looking down reading books and are all smiling.  4 ways to make Read Across America more Diverse blog post.

We can think of Reading “Across America” in a more literal sense. How fun to spend time reading books that represent different cultures, traditions, languages, and customs. Doesn’t that sound fun? Learning about other cultures is one thing that I truly enjoy and that I love to share with my students. These 4 ways to make Read Across America more culturally diverse may spark an even deeper love for reading in your students.

4 Ways to Make Read Across America More Diverse:

# 1

Find authors that live in each state and share their books with students!

The BookWrangler on Instagram created and shared this post. Now, this post is two-fold in that it plays double-duty for Women’s History Month, too.

Who else can we add on the list? I would love for you to share in the comments!

# 2

Find local authors that would be willing to share their work. They can create a pre-recorded video or do a live Zoom session with your class. The author would likely love more opportunities to have their work seen. Perhaps you could commit to sharing their story time via social media. The local author could also offer autographed books to the students. Arrange this with them and share the information with parents in advance.

# 3

Have a parent or other stakeholder read a beloved story in another language. If you have access to someone that speaks another language fluently, have them share a story in their native tongue. Choose a book that your students know well, like Little Red Riding Hood. This way, students would still have a sense of the action in the story.

# 4

Find stories with main characters from diverse backgrounds, religions, regions, or cultures.

Diverse Books You May Love

Here are a few that you may like:

Native American Characters

image of a book cover for Fry Bread, a book that features Native American characters.  A Native American woman with long dark hair holding a red-haired baby in one arm and a bowl of bread in the other arm.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard

A cover image for the book The Rough-Face Girl.  The background is black with a Native American girl covering her face with her hands.  Both hands are wrapped in bandages from her elbows to her fingers.

The Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin

Indigenous Characters

cover book image of an Indigenous Woman standing in the middle of the ocean.  She is wearing a short-sleeved purple top with a red skirt.  There is a white feather in her right hand.  The moon is shining brightly behind her head.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

Hispanic Characters

a book cover image of a young girl playing a large brown piano outside.  Brightly colored flowers are flying up into the air from her fingers/piano playing.

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle

a book cover image showing the large face of a brown-skinned little girl.  She is smiling brightly with no teeth showing.  Behind her are apartment buildings, pink and red flowers, and trees.

Islandborn by Junot Diaz

a cover image of a Hispanic woman wearing a white shirt holding a baby in a diaper.  Her image is halfway on the page.  There are flowers and a butterfly in the background.

Dreamers by Yuri Morales

African/Black/ African American Characters

A book cover image of an African woman sitting on a concrete ground.  There are goats on the wall behind her.  she is wearing black flip flops and a purple and black dress.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

 Book cover image showing a dark-complexioned, little Black girl with large eyes.  Her mouth is opened and she is stretching one hand out.  She is wearing a headband in her short black hair and a turquoise short-sleeved dress.

Sulwe’ by Lupita Nyong’o

a book cover image of 4 African American boys.  They are kneeling on the ground looking at something.

Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs by Sharon M. Draper

An image of a young Caribbean girl.  She is peeking through a wooden door, about to enter a room.  She is wearing a cloth headband in her hair, a colorful, patterned shirt and dark pants.  There is a purple book in her hand.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

Asian Characters

A book cover image of an Asian girl.  She is wearing a short-sleeved red dress and holding a flower in her left hand.  Her long black hair is blowing in the wind and goes across the entire page.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

An image of a young Asian boy smiling while he is hugging his elderly grandfather.

Drawn Together by Minh Le’

a cover image with a dull yellow background with a scaly, green fish.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie

A book cover image showing a little Asian girl sitting in front of a fountain eating with her elderly grandfather.

My Day With Gong Gong by Sennah Yee

Muslim Characters

A book cover image showing Malala wearing a blue Hijab and a lighter blue shirt.  The background is magenta and there are outlines of books, pencils and flowers behind her.

The Story of Malalah Yousafzai: A Biography Book for New Readers by Joan Marie Galat

Malalah Yousafzai: Warrior with Words

A book cover showing a smiling brown woman.  She is wearing a pink Hijab, a blue shirt with white hearts and a purplish blue sweater.

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

A book cover showing a little brown girl sailing across the ocean in a tiny boat made out of paper.  The ocean is a brown-skinned Muslim woman wearing a dark blue Hijab.  Her Hijab is the ocean water.

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Jewish Characters

A cover image of sheet of white lined paper.  A little boy with brownish-red hair, a light blue shirt, dark blue shorts, and sneakers is kicking through the paper.  Behind him are a White girl and a Black boy working at tables.

What Should Danny Do?: School Day (The Power to Choose Series) by Adir Levy

Resources on Dr. Seuss and Racism

Here are a few posts that will share more information on Dr. Seuss:

These links share additional perspectives on the controversy of electing to or not to celebrate Theodore Seuss Geisel.

This link shares more details about the concern regarding celebrating Dr. Seuss.

If you are working to advocate for a Non-Dr. Seuss-based Read Across America Day and you need a little guidance, this resource may be just what you need.

I hope that your students love every second of hearing more diverse texts!

~ This post contains affiliate links.

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Hi, I'm Tania!

I help creative and time-conscious teachers plan student-centered lessons that interest and motivate student learning so that lesson planning takes less time and is actually enjoyable! 

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