Find your favorite bookmark, snuggle into a comfy nook, and get ready to crack open a new or favorite story because March is National Reading Month! In 1998, The National Education Association (NEA) created Read Across America Day on March 2nd, coinciding with Dr. Seuss’ birthday. This was a day aimed at promoting literacy and fostering a love of reading among all children.
A New Chapter for Read Across America
Over the past few years, the NEA and many supporters have started to deemphasize Seuss as part of Read Across America Day and instead focus more on promoting books with diverse themes, authors, and readers. This shift came around when Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it would stop printing several books due to racist imagery.
Seeing Ourselves On the Page
Reading is a key building block to the foundation of learning. According to We Need Diverse Books, learning through diverse stories can help children feel heard, teach empathy, foster literacy, and potentially save lives. To help ensure all readers feel seen and heard on Read Across America Day and National Reading Month, several organizations, educators, and nonprofits have curated diverse lists of books that can be used in the classroom and at home now and throughout the year.
Sam’s Transgender Book List is a resource on Narwhal Magic Kindness that categorizes books based on age appropriateness and topic.
World Cat has several diverse reading lists, including books for American Indian/Alaskan Native/First Nation, Asian, Asian American/Pacific Islander, African American, and Diverse Trailblazing Women. These lists can also be found on NEA’s website.
GLSEN, a nonprofit founded by educators, has created a Ready, Set, Respect! toolkit, with recommended titles and discussion guides, aimed at assisting educators and schools with including LGBT-themed literature in classrooms and libraries.
We Are Teachers curated a list of social justice books for all ages.
Reading Rockets has put together a list of books for children with disabilities. Specific lists for ADHD, learning disabilities, and more can be found at the bottom of the webpage.
And as diverse books are coming under fire across the country, the nonprofit, We Need Diverse Books has a resource page for fighting back if books are being banned in your school or community.
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Diverse books and authors have a powerful story to tell and help to affirm that we all belong. Reading diverse books during and beyond National Reading Month can help us learn about new characters different from ourselves and allow us to see our own stories reflected on the page.
We’d love to know what book your child or family enjoys! Please share with our community below or join NMK’s Facebook page and join the discussion.