Read Across America Day

Read Across America is a day held annually on March 2nd. When March 2nd falls on a weekend, the day is observed on the closest school day. It encourages children in every community to read and also encourages parents and teachers to celebrate the joy of reading.

It’s a holiday that has been celebrated since 1998 and coincides with the birthday of children’s book author Dr. Seuss.

History of Read Across America

This holiday can be traced back to May of 1997. That is when a small group of people at the National Education Association (NEA) came up with the idea to create a day of the year that celebrates reading among children.

They reasoned that if many school football programs could engage children in the sport through pep rallies, then why couldn’t the same thing be done for reading? So they decided to advocate for a Read Across America program that would be celebrated on the birthday of one of the most prominent children’s book authors ever – Dr. Seuss.

The day was officially launched on March 2, 1998, and ever since, it has continued to grow in scope and size. Today, more than 50 national nonprofit and association sponsors and more than 3.3 million NEA members support the effort every year.

How to Celebrate Read Across America

This holiday is celebrated in numerous ways. All over the country, libraries, schools, and community centers hold special Read Across America events that foster reading in their communities. Teachers also develop special events on this day to encourage their students to read.

The NEA also sponsors reading roundtables and has an online store that allows people to buy everything they need for their RAA celebrations. This includes Dr. Seuss hats, RAA bookmarks, special RAA flash drives, and even RAA mugs.

Recommended Student Reading List

While recommended student reading lists vary from community to community, there are some books that always seem to pop up. Below is a partial list of some of the books read by elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Elementary School

  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 by C.S. Lewis
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Who Would Win series by Jerry Pallotta and Rob Bolster
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Middle School

  • I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai
  • Brian’s Song by William Blinn
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

High School

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway


Read Across America is the perfect holiday to get children interested in reading. Parents can take their children to special events and book readings on this day, and teachers can dedicate the whole day to reading the classics.

And if you really want to make the day exciting, you can purchase Cat in the Hat hats and wear them while you read. After all, Dr. Seuss was born on this day as well. No matter what you do, however, make sure you instill the love of reading into the next generation.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
March 1 Friday
Next year (2025)
March 3 Monday
Last year (2023)
March 2 Thursday