Celebrate Black History Month by hosting an African American Read-in

Today begins the celebration of Black History Month in February. Our goal is to highlight the importance of Black American lives through a series of Read-in events.

February 2013 marks the 24th National African American Read-in sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Also known as the African American Read-in Chain, the goal of the national campaign is to promote reading as fun, essential and productive and especially encourage children to begin the lifelong (and life enriching) process. One way to do this is to host community read-ins.

As the NCTE explains, hosting a read-in can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or more elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers. It’s the perfect time to focus on the historical significance of education and literacy in the African American community.

Endorsed by the International Reading Association, more than one million readers of all ethnic groups have participated! To join the 2013 Read-in, follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Select books authored by African Americans
  2. Hold your event during the month of February
  3. Report your results by submitting the 2013 African American Read-in Report Card

Locally, the UMN CEHD African American Read-in provides opportunities to the Minneapolis community year round. We have several special events this February:

Our weekly book club and study group, Black Men Reading, has chosen Jewell Parker Rhodes’ novel, Douglass’ Women as our featured February book. Each Wednesday during the month we’ll meet from 6-8 p.m. at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center to discuss the award-winning novel. It is free and the entire community is invited to attend! The novel was chosen because its author, Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes, has been selected as the 2013 Givens Black Books Author. Givens Black Books celebrates the literary career and contributions of a notable African American author annually.

On Wednesday, February 6 at 7 p.m. the Givens Foundation’s NOMMO  (a Bantu word which translates as “the magic power of the word”) African American Author Series will host poet and literary activist, Ethelbert Miller, who will read and discuss his work at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Center. The Givens Foundation Author Series brings literacy excellence to diverse audiences. Learn more about the event here.

I strongly believe that spending time face-to-face is more important than ever before, especially for the technology-connected generation. Reading together is the perfect way to reconnect with family and community members as we pay tribute to the generations of African Americans who triumphed over adversity.

See my 5 tips for parents to help develop literacy skills in their kids.


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Ezra Hyland

About the Author

Ezra Hyland

  • Teaching Specialist
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • Department of Postsecondary Teaching & Learning
  • University of Minnesota

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