Read Across America Day promotes reading, particularly for children and young adults. Many schools, libraries, and community centers across the United States participate in the day by bringing people together to take part in reading books. Various reading activities and events are held across the country on this day. For example, some students take part in a Read Across America channel designed to showcase student and educator videos around the country. Others make reading pledges, organize book fairs, or read aloud to groups of people.
In 1997 an organization known as the National Education Association (NEA), pushed for a special day to celebrate reading throughout the United States. The first Read Across America Day was held on March 2, 1998. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr Seuss, an American writer best known writing children’s books. Some of his books include Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!and The Cat in the Hat.
The founders of National Education Association suggest a book every year to read on National Read Across America Day. The book chosen this year was: Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai; illustrated by Kerascoet.
Malala’s Magic Pencil
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
Malala’s Magic Pencil – Application to the Classroom
Malala writes that she hopes that readers will realize that every pencil can be magic because the real magic is “in you, in your words, in your voice.” Children need opportunities to talk about issues that concern them and to be involved in broader issues that affect them. Talk to students about what it means to speak up for something you believe in. Encourage discussion about issues that affect them and let students brainstorm ways they can effectively share their insights and ideas and use their voices to be heard. If there is something they wish to speak out about, help them find ways to add their voice and to connect with others who share their concerns.
Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing
Do you believe in magic?
What are some different meanings of the word “magic”?
What are human rights?
How do human rights work?
What are some opportunities for you to speak up and make a difference?
Related Teaching Resources
Malala’s Magic Pencil: Teaching Guide from Penguin UK
One Person Makes a Difference lesson planfrom Teach Peace Now
Social Justice Lesson Plans from NEA
Foster student voice with low-stakes writingassignments from Edutopia
Reading Is Fundamental support materials
Malala Yousafzai Biography video from Biography.com
“An Ordinary Hero” video from the Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Foundation