February is Black History Month; while many educators choose to infuse the whole year of teaching and learning with culturally rich activities and texts, Sigma Tau Delta chapters might consider joining our sister Society, National English Honor Society, in participating in the National Council of Teachers of English African American Read-In (AARI). Begun in 1990, the AARI “was established . . . by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month.” This groundbreaking effort encourages communities to read together, centering African American books and authors and has reached more than 6 million participants around the world.
What is a Read-In?
During the month of February, schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting an African American Read-In. 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 that feature professional African American writers.
Chapters are encouraged to register their activities with NCTE.
What do you do for an African American Read-In?
The format of these events varies widely, but all events have a few things in common:
- Texts written by African American authors are shared.
- Participants either listen to or provide the readings.
- A count is taken of who attends, and that count is documented in the “report card” as a measure of the global reach of this program each year.
Visit the AARI Toolkit for more event ideas.
What books are good to read?
It’s a sign of the success of programs like the African American Read-In and other campaigns to support diverse authors that the answer to this question is slowly growing each year. Here are some booklists from previous years that might spark your interest, but these are by no means comprehensive.
One important note to consider: the African American Read-In was started specifically to create a bigger audience for African American authors. So in the spirit of supporting this core mission, these booklists do not include texts that feature African American characters but that are written by African American authors.
- African American Read-In 2021 – NCTE Staff Recommendations
- African American Read-In 2022 – NCTE Recommendations
- NCTE Children’s Book Award–Winning Titles for the African American Read-In
- 2020 AARI List of Recommended Readings
- Book Recommendations for the African American Read-In
- NCTE Convention Attendees’ Favorites
- NCTE Publications Written by African American Authors
- AARI Frequently Read Books
- Supplemental List for Young Adults and Adults
- Supplemental List for Young Children
- The Farrell J. Chiles Collection
Sigma Tau Delta would also love to publicize your events—send short articles and pictures to Katie Mudd, Director of Communications.