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Read Across America in February!

Honor the contributions of African Americans to the history, culture, and education of the United States during Black History Month.

Share the stories of African Americans throughout history and inspire young readers to learn more about their impact and relevance today.

For Younger Readers

PREACHING TO THE CHICKENS: THE STORY OF YOUNG JOHN LEWIS by Jabari Asim, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2016)

When he's put in charge of caring for his family's chickens, young John Lewis -- who aspires to become a preacher -- finds that the flock makes an ideal congregation.

Read, Discuss and Explore:

Students can find it easy to relate to the childhood stories of celebrated figures. Use this interest to launch further exploration of the true stories of iconic and inspirational people. When you share picture book biographies like Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim or Harlem's Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, make sure to read aloud the author for building background knowledge and provides a starting point for student research for learning more about the era, the people, and what drove their dreams.

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For Middle Grade Readers

Poems of the Harlem Renaissance and new poems inspired by Harlem Renaissance poets and poetry combine to give voice to the experiences of black life.

Read, Discuss and Explore:

In One Last Word, Nikki Grimes explains her approach to the Golden Shovel poetic form: Have students reread the "Poetry Form" section of the book section of the book and challenge them to write their own Golden Shovel poems. Ask students to read their poems -- and the poems that inspired their work -- aloud to the class.

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For Young Adult Readers

LOVING VS. VIRGINIA: A DOCUMENTARY NOVEL OF THE LANDMARK CIVIL RIGHTS CASE by Patricia Hruby Powell; illustrated by Shadra Strickland (Chronicle, 2017)
In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, Mildred Jeter, an African American and Native American woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, fell in love. Their subsequent marriage broke Virginia law, but their determination put them at the heart of the Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races throughout the United States.

Read, Discuss and Explore:

After reading Loving Vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case, ask students to discuss what makes this title a "documentary novel". Do students define this novel as fiction or nonfiction or both? Have them investigate the term "documentary" and "documentary novel". Ask students to consider what impact the historic documents and images found within the book have on the reader. Have students research the Loving story, segregation, and the era to find additional primary documents, articles, videos, music, and other visuals to help them further experience the world in which the novel takes place. Ask each student to present one finding from their research and explain how and where it connects to the Loving story as presented by Patricia Hruby Powell.

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Read Across America Featured Partner

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation Storyline Online, streams imaginatively produced videos featuring celebrated actors reading childrenand provides teachers with curriculum guides for each title. For Black History Month, try Rent Party Jazz by William Miller, read by Viola Davis; To Be a Drum by Evelyn Coleman, read by James Earl Jones; and As Fast as Words Could Fly by Pamela M. Tuck, read by Dule Hill.

Edcommunities Groups

Collaborate with educators on this topic in the groups below.

Supporting Pre-Service Teachers
Welcome to Supporting Pre-Service Teachers! This group is for educators who work with and support pre-service teachers. Pre-Service and Early Career teachers will also benefit from joining this group. Mentors and cooperating teachers are strongly encouraged to join! Notes of encouragement, sharing of resources, good articles, and venting is welcome too. This group is solutions driven - the goal is to find realistic solutions to support our pre-service and cooperating teachers and address any concerns and questions that come up.

Illinois Education Matters
Illinois Education Matters is a network for all practitioners in education - IEA members and non-members. This effort is designed to serve as a repository for professional development, tools, resources, and information on grants, conferences / workshops, etc. Imagine this as your one stop for all connections. If you have joined our group, please message me - letting me know that you joined. I do not get any information telling me you joined. Our membership is so large, it takes me forever to go through and see our new members. Thanks for your help. You can also join other active groups on edCommunities. Several IEA members are facilitators for edCommunities. Check out and join their groups, if interested. Mary Ann Rivera - Illinois ESPs Mary Jane Morris - Illinois Education Matters IEA Jillian Huber - Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th Jim Grimes - Higher Education Amy Kappele - Early Childhood Development & Education

Secondary Literacy
Do you want to inspire your students to think critically, to analyze works, and to use their imaginations on a daily basis? Do you want to explore ways you can integrate reading into writing curricula and writing into reading curricula in your high school classroom? Join us at the Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th group to share, explore, and discuss ways for teachers of all content areas to link these two important life skills together in order to help students get the most out of themselves every day.

Our Read Across America Online Store is Open!

Visit to purchase stickers, bookmarks, pencils, mugs, hats & more. We have all you need to create a memorable RAA celebration.


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Download the Read Across America 2017 Recommended Books Poster here (PDF).

Click here to download the 2018-19 Read Across America Resource Calendar and Poster!



Reading Rockets offers a wealth of research-based resources designed to launch young readers. It's for parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

Coming in 2019...

National Teacher Day
May 7, 2019

National Teacher Appreciation Week
May 6-10, 2019

American Education Week
November 11-15, 2019

Coming in 2020...

NEA's Read Across America Day
Monday, March 2, 2020