Getting Ready for Read Across America Day – March 3

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We need very little incentive in our house to drop everything and pick up a book. Most of our vacations involve a trek to some far flung book sale, or a road trip to a particular book store. Though our house and hearts are full of books, there’s always a need for more. So on March 3 we will celebrate Read Across America Day as a full blown holiday. With festivities and food to go along with our literary delights.

For breakfast we will of course start with that perennial classic, a plate of Green Eggs and Ham, while reading Charlie and Mouse Even Better by Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes. This may lead us to make Charlie’s pancakes as part of second breakfast. 

Before we start school for the day, we’ll be starting a new-to-the-kids chapter book. At this point I am leaning towards Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers by Anna James. This has been one of my favorite books of the past few years that is suitable for all three of my children, aged from 11 to 5. Throughout the day we will have DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) where we will pull this book out and read another chapter.

All Images: Sarah Pinault

School starts at 9am in our house, with a Zoom meeting for my third grader, and a piano lesson for my five year old. In our elementary school this year, the book of the day for March 3 is The Unexpectedly Bad hair of Barcelona Smith by Keith Graves. We will all be wearing our most mismatched outfits and messy hair for the meeting. I see foam curlers in our future for Tuesday night.

After Zoom we usually do some artwork followed by Math, so we are likely to delve into the world of Peg Plus Cat by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson. We have long been admirers of the PBS show, which was inspired by the first book The Chicken Problem, and of the books that followed its success. The illustrations and story are a great blend of different kinds of textures with mathematical principles and imagery. It will lend itself to some great artwork of our own. Back when the pandemic started we founded The Pinault Family Bookmark Company, and used our sudden homeschool environment to make bookmarks and send them to people we knew who needed a little extra smile. We haven’t done it in a while, but this holiday seems like a great day to dust off our bookmark making factory.

Snack time will of course be accompanied by our family favorite Mo Willems; I Really like Slop along with Should I Share My Ice Cream?  While there will be no slop for snack time, I could be persuaded to have some ice cream available as a special treat. Mo Willems has given our family so much. He has helped my kids learn about their emotions, and about their friendships. He has given us so much joy and laughter. The first book my eldest son ever read by himself was written by Mo Willems. Last year when Mo put on classes for the suddenly-homeschooling kids, we watched everyday. My daughter, who was four at the time, would call him “Mo’s Willem” and I prayed she would never change. We read his books, we played his games, he is one of our favorite people. 

After snack time we always do our online programs in Reading and Language Arts. I’m not a big fan of the platform we use in our district, so I think I might deviate from the program a little bit. We might record ourselves reading a poem as a family, or write it out to send to a friend. There is a Read Across America poem by Anita Merina for this day in particular. Today would be a good day to read from our many scrapbooks, or look over some letters sent by our 86 year old Aunt in England: she writes the best letters.

Wednesday is library day in our house, so we will see what our librarian is up to in Seesaw followed by a perusal of our local library’s online database. We will add things to our reading lists that we want to read but haven’t yet, and things that we have read but can’t wait to dive into again. We might work on cataloguing our own library. We’ve been scanning our books into Goodreads, and each have our own lists. These are books we own and books we want, both are pretty sizeable. We’re about due for the kids to identify which books out of their favorite series we are missing, and what better day than this. I know there are a few from The Notebook of Doom we haven’t read yet, and our collection of Big Nate doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

Not all Big Nate books are pictured – they are strewn around the house.

Lunch time comes calling at 12 on the dot in our house. Usually this means some cartoons while we eat, followed by some time in the world of the Super Mario Bros. For Read Across America Day we plan on taking full advantage of the back catalog of celebrities reading stories on StoryLine Online. My ideas might differ from the kids, but these are the ones I most want to see:

  • A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, read by Sean Astin – Samwise Gamgee himself.
  • The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman, read by Wanda Sykes – because who doesn’t love listening to Wanda Sykes doing anything. 
  • Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale, read by Chris Pine – this one is really so mama can watch Chris Pine while eating lunch.
  • Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, read by Betty White – I defy anyone to not enjoy Betty White. 
  • Lotus & Feather by Ji-li Jiang, read by Michelle Yeoh – Michelle Yeoh is not only one of my favorite actresses, but I have a love of Asian literature that I hope I get to pass on to my kids.
  • A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton, read by Sarah Silverman – Honest to goodness this is currently our favorite children’s book. I am so excited to see the incomparable Sarah Silverman read it. 
  • To Be a Drum by Evelyn Coleman, read by James Earl Jones – Need I say more. 

Lunch is always followed by half an hour of quiet, independent reading, so we plan to flip that on it’s head and have some loud, raucous, foot stamping, reading. Each child (and caregiver) gets to pick their favorite story and read it in the style of one of our favorite entertainers and readers of children’s literature: John Lithgow. If you haven’t had the good fortune to have experienced Marsupial Sue or I’m a Manatee yet, then your life must be a dark and empty place in need of more Lithgow.

Picking up where lunch left off we will revisit the stories we listened to our favorite celebrities read, through the activity sheets available on StoryLine Online. Each activity guide provides the grade level it is appropriate for, a synopsis, and a list of themes in each story. These guides are designed with actual teachers in mind, so have a lot more information on the ELA Common Standards than you really need for this holiday as a parent. But they also come with activities based around the book, or to extend what you read about in the book. If that fails, we’ll make more bookmarks!

After our activity sheets we will stick to the daily schedule and work on our correspondence. Each day of the week we write to a different family member, friend, or pen-pal in Colorado (Hi GeekMom Judy!). Usually we follow a format for letter writing, so that we can all focus on our handwriting, but today we will simply write about our favorite books and what we hope to read next. And of course we will include a bookmark for everyone we write to.

For the rest of the afternoon we will be in the kitchen. We will either be making cookies for mice or muffins for moose, depending on what we are all in the mood for. The answer in our house is usually waffles, but I don’t think there’s a book about making waffles for wildebeests.

Having had a paper-oriented day, we’ll probably watch one of our favorite movies based off a book as dinner is concocted. I suspect that it may be The Lorax again, though they could surprise me. They all thoroughly enjoyed Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and we have yet to watch Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters together.

During dinner we will continue to read from our chapter book for the day, mom and dad taking turns reading in between calls for more iced tea, more parmesan cheese, or trips to the potty. Dinner will of course have a chance of meatballs.

As we get ready for stories at bedtime, we will pull out a favorite board game. Perhaps Fairy Tale Fluxx, or Enchanted Forest. Chances are that we will not be playing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Board Game of English Magic, that will have to wait for post bedtime.

We might be able to convince them to get in on a game of Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride & Prejudice Card Game, as they are currently pretty obsessed with the BabyLit primer and BabyLit Storybook versions of mom’s favorite book. Mr. Bingley being a strong favorite of my daughter’s. Thank goodness, I can’t imagine competing with my own daughter for Mr. Darcy.

We will skip bath time, as we only have one waterproof bath book, and I daren’t read to them in the tub. Everything in that bathroom ends up dripping, everything. Hopefully by this point in the day we will be finishing our chapter book as our bedtime story. But more likely is that we are reading A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton for the hundredth time this year. They will fall asleep to the sounds of mom singing Puff The Magic Dragon and dream wonderful dreams of the faraway places they visited on yet another day at home.

I hope you join us in celebrating Read Across America Day on March 3, and share with us what your favorite books and activities were on this wonderful day-I’ve-decided-to-call-a-holiday. 

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