NEA’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading through our theme: Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers. Many schools and libraries celebrate with an annual event on March 2, the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss, but 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 our diverse and complex society, students need books that provide both windows and mirrors if we are going to create more readers, writers, and people who feel included and recognized, and who understand that the world is far richer than just their experiences alone. We know it is challenging to find the time to seek out new books to share, let alone create fun, exciting learning experiences around them. We hope you’ll find the books and resources we’ve provided here and online can blend effectively into existing classroom activities and units of study.

To help you share our recommended titles with students, many of them are available through the First Book Marketplace. Eligible educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can sign up to purchase titles at a discount.

Copies of the print Read Across America calendar may be ordered from our online store, while supplies last.

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December 2018 Empathy and Appreciation

For Middle Grade Readers

Can I Touch Your Hair?

By Irene Latham & Charles Waters; Illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko (Carolrhoda Books-a division of Lerner)

Irene and Charles end up as partners for a poem-writing project—and the poems they write focus on family, friends, food, and what they learn about race and the world around them.

Teach This Book

Teacher’s Guide created by Berry and Company Educational Experiences

Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics With Students from Teaching Tolerance

Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues from Zinn Education Project

Reading Is Fundamental support materials

Irene Latham’s website

Charles Waters’ website

Author Q & A with Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Irene Latham and Charles Waters on The Children’s Book Podcast

More Titles to Try

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Refugee by Alan Gratz

For Teen Readers

You Bring the Distant Near

By Mitali Perkins (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Three generations of women in the Das family struggle to find their places in the world and to accept one another and their life choices.

Teach This Book

Mitali Perkins’ website

Discussion Questions for You Bring the Distant Near from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Reading Is Fundamental support materials

More Titles to Try

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka