Read Across America Ideas
Published on January 1, 2024

Read Across America 2024 Ideas: Read Like a Rockstar

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There are many activities to keep kids occupied, and one of our favorites is reading! Reading is good for practical use in daily life, but it also hones your imagination. As a parent or teacher, we're sure you know that already! In fact, reading is so essential that we have special days like Read Across America, World Book Day, and Hats Off to Reading to bring reading into focus. In this guide, we'll show you plenty of ways to celebrate Read Across America—or any reading-centric holiday—at home and in the classroom!


1. Book-Themed Breakfast

Strawberry Pancakes

As the first meal of the day, it's important not to forget about breakfast! Food is often mentioned in children's books, whether you're reading about Dr. Seuss's green eggs and ham or Eric Carle's pancakes with strawberry jam. However, some foods work better for lunch unless you can put a breakfast spin on them. Think of books like Dragons Love Tacos inspiring breakfast tacos, or Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party giving you breakfast pizzas! You could even go one step further by making a menu for your child to choose their meal from, and you can read the related book together over breakfast.


2. Book Dress-Up Ideas

Costumed Child Reading

Kids love playing dress-up, which often goes hand-in-hand with imaginative play. Books also encourage imagination in your child, so why not wear costumes while reading? It can be as simple as wearing a silly Cat in the Hat striped hat, or they can wear a full costume if they wish. You can even take the costumed reading further by having your child act out their favorite parts of the book they're reading, or by turning it into a family play! Making reading more fun and interactive is sure to be enjoyable for everyone.

Of course, dress-up is fun in the classroom as well—as long as you can keep it from becoming a distraction! Make it a lesson by having your students wear costumes of their favorite book characters, fictional or non-fictional. You can plan activities like reading a passage from the book to the class, or just have quiet reading time!

Schools often have themed dress-up days for Read Across America or Book Week, School Spirit, Homecoming, and similar events. Some dress-up day examples include:

  • Dr. Seuss Costume Day
  • Hippie Costume Day or Tie-Dye Day
  • Nerd Costume Day or Mismatch Day
  • Wacky Costume Day
  • Pajamas Day
  • Decade Costume Day
  • Crazy Hat Day
  • Color Day
  • Movie Costume Day
  • Animal Costume Day
  • Sports Day
  • Superhero Costume Day
  • Historical Costume Day
  • Stuffed Animal Day
  • Zombie Day


3. Special Guest Readers and Speakers

Family Video Call

Whether or not you have anyone available to come to visit and read, using video chat options to have a distant grandparent, relative, or friend is a wonderful way to connect with reading. Not only is reading great for the imagination and learning, but reading can also be a bonding experience for your child.

Consider reaching out to local authors and see if they'll be a speaker for your classroom or school. This can be a source of inspiration for kids, and may even put them on a path to reading and writing after they've graduated!


4. Take It Outside

Mother and Child Reading Outside

If the weather happens to be nice, take full advantage of it by reading outside! Set up some comfy chairs on your porch or in your backyard, grab a picnic blanket to spread on the grass, or perhaps visit a local park with a nice seating area to read in the sunshine. Teachers, you may be limited in where you can take your students, but there's always the playground! If you can, try to pick up a few books about being outside such as Daniel Finds a Poem or You're Missing it! Books with outdoor themes may encourage looking at and listening to the sights and sounds outside, so by taking your reading outside as well, you can make it a little bit more interactive!


5. Find Printable Book-Related Activities

Kid Coloring Activity

The internet houses a treasure trove of information, including many educational resources. It's relatively simple to find printable coloring pages, word searches, crossword puzzles, mazes, and other activities with a popular children's book theme. If your children or students love to color and create, you can encourage them to make their own illustrations for their favorite book! Doing something hands-on is a great way to involve more of your child's senses when learning.


6. Create a Blanket Fort or Reading Nook

Reading in a Blanket Fort

What you read is just as important as where you do it! Make reading fun and exciting by creating a cozy pillow fort or moving some couch cushions or desks to a quiet corner of the room. Whether or not you can fit in the space they've created, they'll love the change of pace when you switch from their normal reading nooks.


7. Flashlight Reads

Flashlight Reading

A great activity for the end of the day, reading by flashlight in a dimmed room and a cozy space is another fun way to add some variety to how you read with your children or students. (You can always plug in a string or two of fairy lights for a little more light and atmosphere, too!) Read whatever you'd like, but this is also a great time to pick out bedtime books such as Goodnight Moon, Llama Llama Red Pajama and Where the Wild Things Are.


8. Reading Day Stickers

Child Playing With Stickers

Days like Read Across America and Hats Off to Reading may have a specific focus on reading for a period of time, but you can extend that by encouraging your child to continue to read. Get the kiddos involved in picking when they want to read! Have them mark out days to read on a calendar by using stickers, or coloring on the days. The more interactive the better...and who can say no to stickers?!


9. Make it a Book Movie Day

Father and Son Movie Night

Everyone loves books, including some of our favorite movie producers and directors! There are tons of movies based on books, from Anne of Green Gables to Harry Potter and Horton Hears a Who. You can even tie the movie in with your reading for the day by reading the book and then watching the movie. It's always fun to try and spot the differences between the two!


10. Play Some Mad Libs

Family Laughing Together

There are tons of resources out there for Mad Libs, or you can even create your own by taking out words from a well-known story. Not only do Mad Libs create silly stories when you read the finished product out loud, but they're great tools for teaching about nouns, verbs, adjectives and more. When you mix humor and education in an exciting way, kids actually want to participate!


11. Put on a Puppet Show

Puppet Show at Home

Rather than simply reading a book, make the story more interactive with a puppet presentation! Children's book puppets are easy enough to find online, or you can always get crafty and make them with felt or colored paper. Also, if you go the DIY puppet route, you can turn it into an activity with the kids. They'll love watching as you perform their favorite stories with their own puppets!


If you're still looking for ways to get your students or kids excited about reading, be sure to check out our page of free Read Across America resources!

We hope we gave you a creative boost on ways to celebrate Read Across America at home or school! Have you tried any of these activities before? Are there any you're looking forward to trying? Do you have additional suggestions for us? Please feel free to leave your comments below!


Top Gift Ideas

If you're looking for some Read Across America gifts, it never hurts to start with books—but you can keep going from there! You can give your child the gift of a new book, read to them using finger puppets, wear book character costumes and join in other Read Across America events at school or the library. The important thing is that you pass on the importance and fun of reading!


Children's Book Gifts

Children's Book Gifts

Cookie Monster Pillow BuddyPete the Cat UmbrellaCheshire Cat PlushSesame Street Board Game

Storybooks for kids are great, but kids are also sure to love these book character gifts! They can snuggle up for storytime with their favorite book character stuffed animals or take some books on the go with a children's book backpack. Parents may also enjoy using finger puppets and plush toys when reading to act out the stories with their kids. There's certainly more than one way to enjoy Read Across America, Hats Off to Reading, or World Book Day at home or school.


Harry Potter Gifts for Kids

Harry Potter Gifts for Kids

LEGO Hedwig PlushHogwarts Castle PlaysetLight-Up Hermione Wand ToyHagrid Pop! Plush
Harry Potter Journal SetDobby Pop! Tee SetLuna Lovegood ShirtHedwig Coin Bank

If your kids are a little older, you can still encourage them to keep reading! Young adult fiction books like the Harry Potter series continue to be very popular, and some families even read the Harry Potter books together. Your kids will also love Harry Potter toys that allow them to act out their favorite scenes from the books and play along with their favorite characters. You can find a variety of Harry Potter LEGO sets along with plush toys, games and other great book-related gifts. Don't think that you have to save the book gift ideas for World Book Day—they're great for holidays and birthdays, too!


Dr. Seuss Gifts for Kids

Dr. Seuss Gifts for Kids

Happy Birthday to You! GameFunko Pattern PartyDr. Seuss Patch SetCat in the Hat Fuzzy Hat
Funko Thing 1 and Thing 2 GameCat in the Hat PajamasDr. Seuss Bow Tie SetDr. Seuss Puzzle

Did you know that Read Across America Day also falls on the same day as Dr. Seuss Day, March 2nd? It's no wonder that there are so many Seussical activities! There are also tons of great Dr. Seuss gifts for kids. Plush toys and finger puppets bring their favorite Dr. Seuss characters to life, making great storytime buddies. You can also find fun Dr. Seuss activities for kids such as a kids' board game! These and other Read Across America activities are sure to make the day extra special!


Winnie the Pooh Gifts for Kids

Winnie the Pooh Gifts for Kids

Winnie the Pooh Plush BackpackWinnie the Pooh ShirtWinnie the Pooh RugWinnie the Pooh Plush

If your child likes to visit Pooh and friends in the 100-acre wood, they would probably love a little Winnie the Pooh gift for Hats off to Reading or World Book Day. A Tigger plush is great for taking on their own adventures, and you can even take it a step further with a set of Pooh ears for pretend play. Maybe they'll want you along on their adventure too!


Book Character Costumes for Kids

Book Character Costumes for Children

Kids' Ravenclaw Costume RobesToddler Llama Llama Red Pajama Costume Kids' Fox in Socks CostumeCurious George Costume
Cat in the Hat Striped HatChild Sherlock Holmes CostumeToddler Alice CostumeToddler Pete the Cat Costume

Many Read Across America Day and World Book Day activities include wearing costumes of book characters. Dr. Seuss costumes like The Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumes are certainly popular picks, but there's so much more! Harry Potter costumes are a great choice, especially Ravenclaw robes for your little bookworm. Also, Alice in Wonderland outfits are classic, but you can also find other offerings like Curious George costumes or Pete the Cat outfits. Your kid will love wearing their favorite literature character costumes, but the best part is that they can also wear their book costumes again for Halloween!


Book Character Costumes for Adults

Book Character Costumes for Adults

Cat in the Hat CostumeSam-I-Am CostumePiglet CostumeWaldo Costume
Plus Size Thing 1 & 2 CostumeMs. Fiona Frizzle CostumeGandalf CostumeProfessor McGonagall Costume

Kids may be encouraged to dress up for Read Across America Day, but even teachers and parents can dig into some Read Across America dress-up ideas—the kids would love it! How cool would it be to teach a class wearing a Miss Frizzle costume, a Professor McGonagall outfit or even a Dumbledore costume? While these book characters are great teacher costume ideas, there are other literary characters that kids will love and recognize, too. The costume might have been for you, but ultimately the kids will get a lot out of the experience!


Book Purses for Adults

Book Purses

The Aristocats PurseThe Fox and the Hound PurseFantastic Beasts Books PurseJungle Book Purse
Robin Hood PurseDumbo PursePinocchio PurseBambi Purse

And finally, we come to our favorite new style of bag: purses that look like books! We have purses that resemble The Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride, and Disney classics like Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh—all with a convenient shoulder strap. They're also lightweight, so even if it looks like you're carrying a library, it won't feel that way. These purses are really the best fashion accessory for book lovers!


We hope that you enjoyed all of these Read Across America Day and World Book Day ideas! What do you do to get your kids interested in reading? Do you read with your kids or even have a family storytime session? We'd love to hear how you get kids to read books. Also, if you'd like to check out some other book products, visit our Read Across America gifts page for other great ideas!

Angela Poch
Angela Poch

Angela Poch is an Inbound Marketing Specialist and Resident Crazy Cat Lady at, where she is an assistant editor and writes about Disney, Pokémon, and gift guides.

What’s fun for her? Angela keeps busy playing video games (Fire Emblem, Pokémon, and Skyrim are her favorites), drawing, sewing, and taking silly pictures with her cats. You can follow her on Twitter @AngelaPoch1 or her cats on Instagram @stardustnebulanova.