March is Reading Month: Great Classroom or Home Activities
March is Reading Month!
One of my favorite times of the year as a teacher is the month of March. I am a self-proclaimed book junkie and March just fuels my book frenzy. March is chosen as reading month because one of the greatest authors of all time, Theodor Geisel, was born on March 2,1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Who is Theodor Geisel? Come on, I know you know him. Do the books Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, sound familiar? Yes, you’ve got it, Theodor Geisel is better known as Dr. Suess. His birthday is still honored each year and is celebrated as National Read Across America Day.
Although Suess is most noted for his children’s books, that is not where his initial writing career was born. He actually spent his early years writing and illustrating ads. He also drew political cartoons about World War II and are collected in the book, The Cat in the Hat Goes to War. His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was certainly not his most popular, in fact it took 27 tries to get it published. The Cat in the Hat is one of his most famous books today and was written in response to a challenge to write books that would get kids reading. Houghton Mifflin asked Suess to write a beginning reader in which he only used 225 of the new reader vocabulary and it was a hit. Dr. Suess remains one of the most recognized authors in children’s literature today. He has won two Academy Awards, a Peabody, two Emmys and a Pulitzer Prize, however he was never nominated for a Caldecott or Newberry award. In spite of this, he did win the challenge of getting kids to read. He has inspired millions of children throughout the last fifty years to read. Read Across America Day was started by the National Education Association to promote literacy among children in the United States. It is celebrated as the start of a month long focus on reading and is celebrated in classrooms across America.
Kicking off reading month
There are so many activities that both teachers and parents can do to celebrate reading month. One of the things that I do to start is to have a reading contest. Since children read at different rates and abilities, I find that it is better to have students tally the number of minutes they read each day instead of page numbers. This encourages them to read books that are at their level, not books that are too easy. I send home a blank calendar with a note explaining the calendar and the activities that are planned for the month. I ask parents to initial the calendar and record the number of minutes that are read. Each Friday my students bring in their calendars and we record each child’s minutes. I display a bar graph in the hallway for everyone to see. Not only does this provide an opportunity for students to check their progress against those of their classmates (to of course win the contest), but it incorporates math into our project. At the end of the month I give each child a participation gift, something inexpensive like a bookmark or a pencil. Then I reward the top three readers with a choice of a new book that I have purchased from my book orders or a “coupon” for a new book from our next book order that has a value of $3 or less. This really motivates my students to increase the number of minutes that they read each month and brings out their competitive side!
Dr. Suess Movies
Classroom and Home Activities
So what activities can you do to celebrate this fantastic month of reading? The possibilities are endless, but here are some to get you started.
Have students design a bookmark to use this month. Laminate them if you can.
Celebrate Dr.Suess’s birthday with a breakfast of green eggs and ham while reading the story.
Share a variety of genres with your students throughout the month: historical fiction, realistic fiction, poetry, biography, etc.
Read one of Dr. Suess's books, Like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and have your students create their own color and/or number rhyming book.
Take a field trip to the local library. Encourage students who do not have a library card to apply for one.
Invite parents and community members in to read a story to your class. Have books available for them to read or allow them to share their favorite story.
Have a “Drop Everything and Read” Day. Allow students to “lounge” around in their pajamas and read all day. Encourage them to bring in pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals to make the time more comfortable. Ask them to bring in a selection of stories to read and have a variety of books available to students to choose from.
Read The Cat in the Hat and have students write a new ending to the story.
Host a bagels and books breakfast event. This could be just in your classroom or school wide. Ask family members to come in before school, enjoy some bagel s and juice and read a story to their child.
Have students write a recipe for great reading.
Share this youtube video with your students and create your own inspirational reading video.
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