Read Across America Day

Read Across America Day

Read Across America Day is a holiday that encourages reading for all ages. While the focus is on children who are in the middle of mastering reading skills, book lovers young and old participate in this special day. It falls on March 2nd, which is the same day as Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Schools heavily promote this holiday, but it is also equally important for parents to encourage participation from all at home.


Read Across America Day was founded by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1997. The NEA is an organization of current and retired teachers and other education professionals, as well as parents and prospective teachers. The group unanimously voted on an idea for a holiday that would promote reading and literacy of all ages on a national scale. Subsequently, the very first Read Across America Day was celebrated on March 2, 1998.

Many symbols are linked to the holiday. The NEA’s national symbol is often utilized in promotional materials, as well as graphics of books and children reading.

Impact of Dr. Seuss

Before Read Across America Day could officially launch, members of the NEA had to choose an appropriate date. March 2nd was chosen because it was the same date as the birthday of the beloved children’s author, Dr. Seuss.

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss remains one of the most popular children’s books author of all time. He is famous for classics, such as Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Ten Apples Up on Top and Horton Hears a Who. These stories are not only silly and fun in nature, but the rhyming has helped children learn how to read over the years. In fact, many of Seuss’s books are published today with icons on the covers to help parents indicate whether the particular title is a good independent read, or if it is more appropriate to read together. Children and adults both love these classic books.

Dr. Seuss died at 87 years old in 1991. Since his death, his birthday has been observed to celebrate children’s literature. When the NEA decided to take the celebrations a step further by creating a national Read Across America Day, citizens were more than happy to oblige.

Annual Celebrations

Since the holiday falls on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, much of the celebrations of Read Across America Day involve the famous children’s writer. Most schools allow students to wear Cat in the Hat hats, as well as silly socks or other famous wardrobe pieces from the author’s books. Some cafeterias even make green eggs and ham. Local libraries often participate through book fairs and special readings from children’s authors.

While schools tend to keep the celebrations silly and fun in nature to engage the kids, there are many more serious issues at stake when considering Read Across America Day. Millions of adults are illiterate because they did not have opportunities to read as children. This holiday promotes the importance of reading across all ages to help improve quality of life. Without essential reading skills, adults cannot complete day-to-day tasks or gain optimal employment.

Special Considerations

Read Across America Day is officially on March 2nd, which falls on the birthday of Dr. Seuss. However, due to the wide participation by schools, the day is celebrated on the closest weekday whenever the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. For example, March 2, 2013 is on a Saturday, so schools will observe Read Across America Day on Friday, March 1st. In 2014, public schools will celebrate the day on Monday, March 3rd.

Read Across America Day Gift Ideas