I am thrilled to share this simple Read Across America activity with you. Of course, if you teach in a country besides the US, you can still use this to celebrate books at any time of the year. We did this activity in my PreK class yesterday, and every one of my students was engaged and eager to participate. What is so incredible about this activity is that while it does celebrate books, it also celebrates each student. It builds community, and it promotes friendship. I know more and more teachers are looking for ideas like this Read Across America activity without Dr. Seuss, to update their curriculum. This book activity idea is perfect! If you aren’t familiar with why Seuss was dropped from these celebrations years ago, read about it here. Also, read through this great article about how to deal with racism in children’s literature.
Whose Favorite Book Is This? Read Across America Activity
Gather your materials. You will need your students’ favorite books from home, a pencil, and post-it notes.
Earlier in the week, tell your students they will need to bring their favorite book to school on the day you choose to do this activity. Of course, follow this up with an email or two home as well.
When they arrive, take the book and write their name on a small post it. Make a big pile of the books.
The Group Activity
I started our circle time with this question; What makes books special? My students went on a very academic route with their answers, but that was fine. The following activity would help them see books are so much more than that.
Next, I picked up the huge pile of books and explained to the children that they were not to yell out, “That’s my book, I brought that book!” because we would play a guessing game. Then I explained the rules. I will hold up a book and read the title, and I’d allow three guesses from classmates. After the three guesses, I’d reveal the truth, and the child whose book it was would tell me why they love this book and what their favorite part is.
Then I went book to book, and it worked BEAUTIFULLY!
The very best thing was watching how my students used their knowledge of each other, each other’s likes and dislikes to guess whose book was whose.
“Hannah loves unicorns so I think this book is hers!”
“Laine knows so much about space so maybe the rocket book is his.”
“Penny is the best scientist in our class, this has to be hers!”
The best part was they were right! Not a single child spoiled their secret book, and even when two children brought the same book, it was smooth sailing.
I highly encourage all teachers to try this activity no matter what age your students are. Not only did we celebrate each other, but that previously rather academic focus on why books are special shifted to their favorite book and enjoyment. I know that changing the way you have always celebrated a special event like Read Across America can be a pain but it’s important to update and this activity without Dr. Seuss is a great way to do it.
How did you celebrate books for Read Across America this year? Did you do a Read Across America Activity without Dr. Seuss too?