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Read Across America in September!

Start the school year with these books that discover themes like heritage, American history, U.S. Constitution, civics, social justice, Mexican-American history, immigration, mental health, acceptance, identity and more.

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal. Also available in a Spanish language edition Alma y como obtuvo su nobre.

Alma Sofia Esperanza Josthinks that six is way too many names! But as she learns more about how her names connect her to her family, Alma becomes very proud of all her names.

In the author's note for this book, Juana Martinez-Neal shares the history of her name and invites readers to share the story behind their own names. Use this opening for discussion to encourage students to learn more  about their own name stories -- how they came to be named, how they chose a nickname, or another story about their names. Ask students to interview family members to find out details about how and why they were given their names or acquired nicknames. Have students share their name stories with each other to further explore how naming is part of larger cultural traditions and how name-giving practices vary from culture to culture.

More texts and multimedia to engage students, inspire further content exploration, and differentiate instruction:

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes,

My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits

Ren Has Two Last Names / Ren tiene dos apellidos by Ren Colato Lanez

My Name Is Sangoel by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed

Welcome Dede! An African Naming Ceremony by Ifeoma Onyefulu

Naming Ceremonies by Mandy Ross

Behind the Name: The Etymology and History of First Names

Interview with Juana Martinez-Neal

Questions for discussion or reflective writing:

Is a name just another word, or it is something more?

How closely is one

Is your name connected to your family? How?

What is the purpose of names? Why do we have them?

Does your name help to make you who you are? Why or why not?

Would you ever want to change your name? What new name would you choose?

How would you feel if someone else decided that you would change your name?

Educator resources:

Candlewick's Alma Activity Kit

7 Naming Customs from Around the World from Tesol

Writing a Name Poem from ReadWriteThink

What's in a Name? A Back-to-School Literacy Unit from Scholastic

On the Calendar

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Booklists from Colorin Colorado

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. S (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

After the death of her dutiful older sister, Olga, rebellious Julia deals with her family and the discovery of her sister's secret double life.

Themes: anxiety, depression, grief, identity, immigration, Mexican-American community, family


Erika L. Sanchez's website
Chicago Humanities Festival interview with Erika L. Sanchez

Library Card Sign-Up Month

Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller

September 1: National Book Festival

September 2: Margarita Engle

September 3: Labor Day

Picture Books for Labor Day: The History of Solidarity from What We Do All Day?

September 8: International Literacy Day

September 11: National Day of Service and Remembrance

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

September 15: Tomie dePaola

September 17: Constitution Day

This Is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father by Khizr Khan (Knopf)

Learn more about the Constitution and how to uphold its principles from a citizen who is passionate about his adopted country.

Themes: American history, U.S. Constitution, civics, social justice, immigrants

Meet the author:

KidsReads: Khizr Khan biography

PBS News Hour: Khizr Khan

Random House Off the Page: Khizr Khan in conversation with Ben Greenberg

Discussion tools:

National Archives: Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution

Constitution USA with Peter Sagal from PBS

Resources to engage students in meaningful civic learning from iCivics

September 21: International Day of Peace

On the International Day of Peace, explore the themes of community, tolerance, and citizenship with these books suggested by Reading Rockets

September 23-29: Banned Books Week

Frequently Challenged Books for Kids and Teens, a list from Common Sense Media

September 25: James E. Ransome

Edcommunities Groups

Collaborate with educators on this topic in the groups below.

Illinois Education Matters
Illinois Education Matters is a network for all practitioners in education - IEA members and non-members. This effort is designed to serve as a repository for professional development, tools, resources, and information on grants, conferences / workshops, etc. Imagine this as your one stop for all connections. If you have joined our group, please message me - letting me know that you joined. I do not get any information telling me you joined. Our membership is so large, it takes me forever to go through and see our new members. Thanks for your help. You can also join other active groups on edCommunities. Several IEA members are facilitators for edCommunities. Check out and join their groups, if interested. Mary Ann Rivera - Illinois ESPs Mary Jane Morris - Illinois Education Matters IEA Jillian Huber - Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th Jim Grimes - Higher Education Amy Kappele - Early Childhood Development & Education

Secondary Literacy
Do you want to inspire your students to think critically, to analyze works, and to use their imaginations on a daily basis? Do you want to explore ways you can integrate reading into writing curricula and writing into reading curricula in your high school classroom? Join us at the Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th group to share, explore, and discuss ways for teachers of all content areas to link these two important life skills together in order to help students get the most out of themselves every day.

School Integrated Pest Management
This group will provide information and resources for integrated pest management training and advice for all educators and school districts . Pest management is important, but often overlooked, part of school safety. Pests can cause stings and bites, and can trigger allergies. In addition, some pests pose health threats by spreading germs and filth. Un-managed pest problems can result in damage to school property, unsightly landscapes, and other unsafe conditions.

Our Read Across America Online Store is Open!

Visit to purchase stickers, bookmarks, pencils, mugs, hats & more. We have all you need to create a memorable RAA celebration.


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Download the Read Across America 2017 Recommended Books Poster here (PDF).

Click here to download the 2018-19 Read Across America Resource Calendar and Poster!

NEA's Read Across America: Building a Nation of Readers

Reading Rockets offers a wealth of research-based resources designed to launch young readers. It's for parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

Coming in 2019...

National Teacher Day
May 7, 2019

National Teacher Appreciation Week
May 6-10, 2019

American Education Week
November 11-15, 2019

Coming in 2020...

NEA's Read Across America Day
Monday, March 2, 2020