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Reading is the Foundation of Learning

Since 1998, the National Education Association has celebrated Read Across America to raise awareness about the importance of reading. In 2013, CTA launched the California Reads program. 

Rather than celebrate reading on just one day, California Reads promotes reading year-round with teacher-approved quarterly book recommendations for multiple age groups, including adults. California Reads promotes reading through a yearly list of 20 teacher-recommended books in five age categories: Pre K/TK/K, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12.

 

Participate in California Reads 

Toby Boyd sits in a classroom reading a book to a group of students

Submit a book recommendation, download posters for the classroom, create certificates for your students, print out bookmarks and more. Share what your school is doing by using #CaliforniaReads on social media. 

Spring 2020 Recommendations

The California Reads Committee offers teacher-approved quarterly book recommendations for multiple age groups.

Pre K / TK / K

Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang is the hilarious #1 New York Times bestselling picture book about dealing with unexplained feelings…and the danger in suppressing them. Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it–how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy? Suzanne and Max Lang bring hilarity and levity to this very important lesson. This picture book is an excellent case study in the dangers of putting on a happy face and demonstrates to kids that they are allowed to feel their feelings (though they should be careful of hurting others in the process!). Publish date: 2018

Grades 1-2

Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Jamey Christoph tells the powerful and timeless true story that will allow young readers to discover the rich and dynamic history of the Stonewall Inn and its role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement–a movement that continues to this very day. In the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police in New York City. Though the inn had been raided before, that night would be different. It would be the night when empowered members of the LGBTQ+ community–in and around the Stonewall Inn–began to protest and demand their equal rights as citizens of the United States. Movingly narrated by the Stonewall Inn itself, and featuring stirring and dynamic illustrations, Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution is an essential and empowering civil rights story that every child deserves to hear. Publish date: 2019

Grades 3-5

Front Desk by Kelly Yang tells the story of Mia Tang. Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams? Publish date: 2019

Grades 6-8

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevado tells the story of Xiomara Batista. Xiomara feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Grades 9-12

Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. Publish date: 2018

This Year’s Read Across America — 2020

California’s public school educators joined a nationwide celebration of reading this year as they met up with parents, local and state officials, firefighters, and TV and movie actors at events statewide for NEA’s 23rd annual Read Across America extravaganza.