UNI sponsors African American Read-In, spotlights literacy

Nearly 2,000 first-graders will connect with the University of Northern Iowa College of Education as part of its 16th African American Read-In, which celebrates the literary works of African American authors and illustrators during Black History Month.

The February 17 event, part of the National African American Read-In that engages more than one million readers annually, is again being offered virtually. Classroom teachers will connect via Zoom links to a morning or afternoon program. Elementary students from Waterloo, Hudson, Oelwein Parkside, St. Patrick’s (Cedar Falls), Findley Elementary School in Des Moines, Union, Jesup, Independence, Dike-New Hartford, Waverly-Shell Rock, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Oelwein (Sacred Heart), North Butler, Janesville, Denver and Dunkerton schools plan to participate.

“The pandemic has disrupted the learning of so many children, and we know first grade is a huge stepping stone in learning to read. This year’s read-in takes on added significance as an opportunity to draw children toward reading while also introducing them to the wonderful contributions of leading African American authors and illustrators,” said Gloria Kirkland Holmes, UNI College of Education professor emeritus and coordinator of the annual event.

African American Read-In

All students will receive a free copy of either “The Great Migration” or “Honey I Love,” both illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. The books were provided by GreenState Credit Union and Veridian Credit Union.

The National African American Read-In is sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and endorsed by the International Reading Association. UNI’s read-in is held annually in conjunction with the African American Children and Families Conference, also a virtual event this year on February 18.

The UNI College of Education sponsors the read-in along with support from other campus units, the Waterloo school district and the Cedar Valley Readers Coalition.