Did You Know . . . That in conjunction with Black History Month there is also a celebration called the National African American Read-In? Beginning in 1990, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) began sponsoring the African American Read-In (AARI), as a way to connect the encouragement of literacy and reading skill development to the national celebration of African American History Month.
At its November 1989 meeting, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) accepted their Issues Committee’s recommendation that the Black Caucus should consider sponsoring a nationwide Read-In, on the first Sunday of February. At the request of educators, Monday was designated for educational institutions. Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott, an active member of NCTE and the Black Caucus, brought the idea to the Committee. It was envisioned that following a decade of rigorous campaigning for participants, the African American Read-Ins would become a traditional part of Black History Month celebrations. The commitment for nationwide promotion extends from 1990 to the present. In 1990, the National Council of Teachers of English joined in the sponsorship of the African American Read-In Chain.
“The African American Read-In (AARI) . . . is built on an ambitious yet confident premise: that a school and community reading event can be an effective way to promote diversity in children’s literature, encourage young people to read, and shine a spotlight on African American authors.” (NCTE Council Chronicle, November 2014).
During the month of February, schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens, are encouraged to make literacy a significant part of their Black History Month celebrations by hosting an African American Read-In. While the original Read-In events were mostly scheduled at the beginning of February, it is now possible to schedule sponsored events anytime within the month. Hosting an event can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations, featuring professional African American writers.
Access to the NCTE Read-In website (http://www.ncte.org/aari/toolkit ) will connect interested participants with toolkit resources for organizing and sponsoring an event, including press kits, downloadable badges, flyers, posters, bookmarks, and reading lists of recommended books by African American authors. Event resources are categorized at the elementary, middle school, high school, and college level. Links are also provided for news agencies and advertisers to access publicity resources and news releases that are already formatted with pertinent information for the coming celebrations.
For those wanting more information about how to get started, there are also links to previous events, AARI videos and chat archives, as well as links to contact information for the current AARI personnel.
Once an organization has registered to host an event, there are also services that the AARI provides as a courtesy. One such service is assuring that all local celebrations are listed on a national calendar, so that community members wishing to participate can find information on observances taking place near them.
In fact, there are two observances taking place in Indiana this year, both of which are linked here:
Bloomington: Celebration of literature opens Black History Month (February 1, 2016)
Kokomo: A Chance to Make Real Connections in Kokomo (February 6, 2016)
Organizations who have participated in the program are also encouraged to fill out the “Read-In Host Report Card” form, once an event is completed. Submission of these forms allows the AARI office to document the number of events that have taken place, the number of participants included, and any publicity that was distributed. These forms also help the AARI organization to keep a record of participating organizations and local volunteers who are likely to assist with the planning and implementation of future events. The Host Report Card should be submitted after the scheduled African American Read-In event and no later than March 15, of the current year.
So perhaps next year, you or your organization will feel inspired to participate in this worthwhile program. If you do, be sure to let the rest of the law school know about it. Most likely you will get even more participation than you ever expected, especially if you get started now! Best wishes and Happy Reading!
Image credit: http://www.ncte.org/