WASHINGTON, DC, Feb 27 — This weekend the nation celebrates Read Across America Day. To be precise, RAAD falls on Friday, March 1st, and you can be sure there’ll be a wide variety of official and non-official events to commemorate the occasion.
For example, teachers will likely prompt parents to encourage their kids to pick up a book, hoping that it will make reading a habit.
There are also online sources that provide ideas for parents and teachers about how to take advantage of the celebration, which coincides with the birthday of the prolific children’s author, Dr. Seuss. Seuss’s birthday is on March 2nd, but Read Across America Day, is celebrated on the nearest school day.
David Bruce Smith, education advocate, points out that generations of children have been mesmerized into becoming avid “bookworms by the tales of Theodor Seuss Geisel.”
One site, SignUpGenius, offers activities kids can do at home or in school, such as decorating a space with cozy pillows, sleeping bags or other comfortable items, along with a selection of age-appropriate books.
The children’s literacy initiative, Reading is Fundamental, advances what it calls, “literacy tips and tools” on its website to help motivate children. “But, reading is not just fundamental, it’s fun,” according to Smith.
Smith, an author and publisher, is also co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize, along with the late Dr. Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He suggests selecting books that coincide with the interests of your children.
“If your sons and daughters have adventurous spirits, give them something that will capture their imaginations, such as Kathy Cannon Wiechman’s Like A River. It won the inaugural Grateful American Book Prize in 2015. More important, it will satisfy your child’s sense of excitement, while providing him or her with a first-hand “view” of the Civil War. Exciting stories like this are not just a learning opportunity; they also allow your children to travel back in time, and feel like they’re experiencing history,” says Smith.
He emphasizes that the purpose of the Prize is inspire kids to read exciting books, and—hopefully–develop a love for history—a requirement—if your child is to grow into a productive, and civically minded citizen.
If your son has a passion for sports, try Travel Team [Basketball] or Calico Joe [Baseball]. If your daughter likes love stories, give her Country Crush [boy meets girl, loses girl and maybe gets girl back] or Windfall [romance light and sweet]. And, if your children favor tales of adventure, there’s Crusoe [based on Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe] and Women Who Dared [from the pages of history].
“Books are ammunition for imagination—and a contributor to one’s success, especially when they propel us to learn the hows and whys of the past. Books teach young people how to think; they spur ideas, and develop the art of decision making,” says Smith.
Author Teri Kanefield, who was awarded a 2018 Grateful American Book Prize “Honorable Mention” for her young readers’ biography of Andrew Jackson, has an interesting interpretation about the Prize: “Books about wizards and romance with vampires will always command a wide audience. Those books don’t need much help. A prize like this one helps teachers and parents identify the books that experts have determined are most likely to engage young readers and make them want to read more.”
About the Grateful American Book Prize
The panel of judges for the 2019 Grateful American Book Prize is now accepting submissions for books published between July 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019. Historically accurate books of fiction and nonfiction written for middle schoolers are eligible.