Upper Elementary Students reading books on Read Across America Week.

4 Fun Ways to Celebrate Read Across America Week in the Upper Elementary Grades

When it comes to Read Across America Week, I truly get excited! Every year by the end of January, I start looking forward to dressing up and doing class a little differently for a few days… What theme days will we have? Which books should I share? How can I creatively review Reading standards, but keep the activities fun? It helps shine up my Teacher Sparkle that may be in need of a bit of rejuvenating at this point in the Winter!

Read Across America Week ideas

Many schools celebrate just March 2nd, which is Read Across America Day, but my schools always did the whole week (and for that, I was always thankful!).

I am also here to say that RAA isn’t just for the little kids, 4th and 5th graders enjoy it too! The older kids might be “too cool” to show how much they like it, but don’t let them fool you! They totally do!

Here are a few “Cool Kid Approved” ways to make celebrating Reading fun for everyone this Read Across America Week!

Try Read Across America Week Reading Buddies

Upper Elementary kids absolutely LOVE working with younger kids! Capitalize on this by buddying up with another teacher in the K-2 hall and set a day and time to get your students together.   

Reading Buddies sharing a book on Read Across America Week.

I pull a good assortment of picture books so that my students have plenty to choose from. Once they have a book, my students will read it several times to themselves and to a partner in our class (just to get really comfortable with it).

During this practice time, I go around the room and help any student who needs work on fluency. We talk about funny voices, punctuation, and anything else that will make their reading “more like a movie”.

When we read to our buddies, we always share a sucker or piece of candy and give them a bookmark or a sticker. The little ones love it! It’s a great opportunity for the younger buddies to return the reading favor and invite your kids to come listen to them read, too! Super easy activity, but the impression that reading is fun lasts on both the reader and the listener!

Write your own Reader’s Theater

Whether you do this as a whole class or let students work in pairs, take a book you have already read and turn it into a Reader’s Theater script! A picture book works great for this activity! There is a beginning/middle/end, a quickly identifiable problem/solution, and a short character dialogue that students simply rewrite using their own words. 

Students Writing a Reader's Theater Script on Read Across America Week

It’s a good place to begin when trying to introduce this difficult skill. Later on, you can give your students more of a challenge by asking them to create their own new scene from a chapter book that didn’t happen in the book!

But for now, definitely stick with picture books! Be sure to discuss how difficult the process is and ask students if they have a new appreciation for how authors write their books!

When students are finished writing, ask them to practice reading their scripts (in character with funny voices- of course!) and then perform for the class. Just remind students that this is Reader’s Theater not Remember Theater! The goal is to read the words not memorize them, so keep their eyes on the words!

Create Art using picture books as inspiration

Giving students time to be creative with Art is so incredibly valuable! Adding Art to reading is also a great way to engage students who typically don’t enjoy reading. Projects can be as simple or over-the-top as you want!

Even Monsters Need Haircuts Art and Writing Activity for Read Across America Week.

Whether it’s an actual project where students create with play-doh, paint, or scraps of paper or a simple drawing and coloring activity- students will enjoy linking Art to Reading as well as use planning and problem solving skills!

Try reading Even Monsters Need Haircuts this week! After the story, get your students to create crazy hairstyles for their monster using scraps of paper (folded, crumpled, curled, accordion, etc…) and glue!

Once the fun crazy hair is made, students will write a persuasive paragraph (AS the monster!) begging the main character from the story to give them a haircut or NOT to!

Now hang those bad boys up in the hallway and encourage other classes to come by and see them! Click here for an activities pack that includes a monster templates Freebie to use for this activity!

How about The Lorax? After Reading, create a Truffula Tree using pipe cleaners and tissue paper or a pom-pom made out of yarn. Click here for a free activities pack that includes written directions for this activity.

After the art activity, discuss with your students what caused the trees to disappear in the story. Ask, “Could this ever happen to our trees in real life?” Discuss ways people could prevent what happened in the story from really happening. Then, ask students to create a poster sharing ways we could protect our trees from a similar fate as the truffula trees.

Use your own “Teacher Sparkle” to think of ways you could incorporate Art projects with other picture books you have! However you choose to use Art in your classroom, you won’t regret allowing your students the opportunity to get creative!

Advertise your favorite book

Nothing gets your students more excited about reading than hearing their friends recommend their favorite books! This Read Across America Week, ask students to think about their favorite book, then use this Free Pennant to allow students to create a celebratory Class Reading Banner!  

Reading Banner to Celebrate Read Across America Week

Students can draw and color a picture of the cover of their favorite book or create a pennant “Advertising” their favorite book! They must also give some interesting information to persuade others to read it too!

Allow students the opportunity to share their pennants with the class, then string them all together to make a banner! Hang the banner in the hallway to share with other classes passing by!

Not only will your students enjoy sharing their favorite books, but they just might be encouraged to read their friends’ favorite books, too!

If you love easy printable activities that make celebrating Read Across America fun and stress-free, check out the activities in my Read Across America Week Fun Pack and Read Across America Week Book Activities Pack! You can find both (or grab the BUNDLE!) in my TPT Store!

Celebrate Read Across America Week with Themed Dress-Up Days!

Ok, I know I said “4 Ways to Celebrate Read Across America Week”, but there’s no way I can write this post and leave out my favorite activity! Dressing up is so much fun for the kids (and can be for us teachers, too!) and makes Read Across America Week just a bit more different and memorable!

Teacher and student dressed up wacky for Read Across America Week.

Students and teachers get to wear fun items for Theme Days and read the books that go with the theme.

There is no better way to make this week feel special than getting students involved with some silly shenanigans!

Here are a few fun ideas (some simple and some wild!) for Dress Up Days for Read Across America Week! And don’t underestimate the “Teacher Sparkle” power of PJ Day!

If you aren’t a fan of Dr. Seuss books, try these books for a good Theme Day!

No matter what Theme Days you choose, you and your students are going to have so much fun! And yes, Theme Days will get your students more excited about school than usual. Don’t let that scare you! Read Across America Week only comes once a year so make it memorable!

Are you ready for Read Across America to bring joy to your classroom?

Students watching the movie version of their favorite book on Read Across America Week

I hope these ideas have inspired you to make Read Across America not just one day, but a whole week! Celebrate the joy, mystery, adventure, and magic that books bring! If your whole school doesn’t participate, then consider this blog post your permission slip to celebrate in your own classroom your own way!

You also have my permission to read a book and then watch the movie version on Friday afternoon! After all, you only get a week like this once a year!

If you’re looking for more Read Across America Week ideas, check out my blog post on using Dr. Seuss books to teach Theme! Have fun, teacher friends, and make it a week that your kids won’t forget!

Read Across America Ideas on Pinterest

Are you inspired to make this year’s Read Across America Week the best one yet? Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest Teaching Ideas board!

Pinterest Pin of students reading for Read Across America

If you have any questions or want to bounce any ideas off a colleague, I’m here for you! Teacher Sparkle always grows when it has other Teacher Sparkle to share in the excitement!


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