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Read Across America or Dr. Seuss Day

Mar 1, 2019

Image: Reading to children

What is NEA's Read Across America?

NEA's Read Across America, according to their website,, is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.

NEA's Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.

In cities and towns across the nation, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents, and others develop NEA's Read Across America activities to bring reading excitement to children of all ages. Governors, mayors, and other elected officials recognize the role reading plays in their communities with proclamations and floor statements. Athletes and actors issue reading challenges to young readers. And teachers and principals seem to be more than happy to dye their hair green or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students' reading.

The Beginning

In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea. "Let's create a day to celebrate reading," the group decided. "We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday." And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.

The Purpose of Read Across America

Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

Read Across America Sponsors

At the national level, the National Education Association sponsors and spearheads the program with support from more than 50 national nonprofit and association partners. Locally, everyone-from schools to libraries to community centers to churches to hospitals to bookstores-is invited to host local events to celebrate and promote children's reading.

Read Across America Partners

In addition to the 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers who make up NEA membership, some 50 national organizations and associations give their support.

Get Involved!

Contact your local school, NEA local association, library, bookstore, or local chapter of NEA's Read Across America partner organizations about events that are taking place in your community. Explore this Web site fully for information, ideas, and resources.

Begin Planning Now!

NEA's Read Across America Resource materials offer numerous opportunites for involvement in children's reading throughout the year. The only thing you need to do is plan how, where, and when you will read to a child or teen in your life - everyday. Don't forget to join the Read Across America Fan page and Cause page on Facebook and check out the Read Across America Channel on
Schooltube.comfor videos.

Pick up an interesting book and read it. More importantly, read with a child. Use #ReadAcrossAmericaDay or #DrSeussDay to post on social media.

The first National Read Across America Day was held on March 2, 1998.

History of Dr. Seuss Day

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States according to In 1921, he graduated from high school and enrolled at Dartmouth College. While there, he joined the humor magazine the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern and eventually became an editor-in-chief. After he was caught drinking, which was illegal during Prohibition, he was forced to resign from the magazine. However, he decided to keep working for it and instead used the pen name “Seuss.” When he graduated in 1925, he then entered Lincoln College, Oxford to work towards his Ph.D. in English Literature. While at Oxford, he met Helen Palmer a woman who would encourage him to pursue a career in art instead of becoming an English teacher.

During World War 2, Geisel would draw over 400 political cartoons for the New York daily newspaper called PM. These cartoons denounced Hitler and Mussolini and one of them depicted all Japanese Americans as latent traitors. His cartoons were also supportive of the way President Roosevelt managed the war and were especially critical of Congress. Eventually, he would go on to draw posters for the War Production Board and the Treasury Department and then would write films for the United State Army Air Forces.

After the war, he began to write children’s books from his home in La Jolla, California using the pen name Dr. Seuss. Some of the books during this time included If I Ran the Zoo, Horton Hears a Who, If I Ran the Circus, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Green Eggs and Ham. In 1954, Dr. Seuss wrote Cat in the Hat using 236 words that were deemed important for first-graders to learn after Life Magazine had reported that children weren’t reading as much because they found most of the children’s books boring.

From 1927 to 1990 he was very active, writing many beloved children’s books. On September 24th, 1991 he died at the age of 87. However, his legacy would live on. In 2009, the Cat in the Hat sold over 450,000 copies; Green Eggs and Ham sold over 540,000 copies, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish sold over 400,000 copies. In 1997, the National Education Association wanted a day to celebrate reading and to encourage children to read all over the U.S., so the Read Across America Day was held on March 2nd, 1998. It was set to coincide with the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss Day Customs & Traditions

On Dr. Seuss Day it is customary to read a favorite book with your child. It could be one of Dr. Seuss’s books or it could be another children’s book author. The whole point of the day is to engage children in reading and to get them to read on a regular basis.

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