February 04
K - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Rosa Parks (1913–2005) is best known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal event in the civil rights movement that ultimately led to the dismantling of Jim Crow segregation. Rosa Parks became an icon of the movement, celebrated for this single courageous act of civil disobedience, but she is often characterized by misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, Parks was not a demure seamstress who chose not to stand because she was physically tired. Her calm demeanor hid a militant spirit forged over decades. Learn more about her and her life by exploring these primary sources.

Explore the sites and online exhibitions listed below. Ask students what they can learn from these primary sources about why Rosa Parks took her stand against segregation, and about the organizations and movements that participated in the struggle. They might compare that to what they learn from a textbook or other secondary source and then write a possible update for the secondary source.

It's important that students understand the difference between primary and secondary sources. Visit here for a solid definition and see some examples.

Rosa Parks was born on this day in 1913.

Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words showcases rarely seen materials that offer an intimate view of Rosa Parks and documents her life and activism—creating a rich opportunity for viewers to discover new dimensions to their understanding of this seminal figure.

This gallery showcases a selection of items from the Rosa Parks Papers at the Library of Congress, a gift from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. This collection contains thousands of items that document the life, work, and legacy of this civil-rights legend.

In honor of the birthday of civil rights legend Rosa Parks, this blog highlights the many cards and letters students wrote for Ms. Parks over the years.

The Rosa Parks Collection, which is on loan to the Library for 10 years from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, spans from 1866-2006 and contains 7,500 items and 2,500 photographs.

March 02
K - 12
Literacy-Related Event

Join NEA’s Read Across America to celebrate a nation of diverse readers with these recommended books, authors, and teaching resources that represent an array of experiences and cultures.

Read Across America has celebrated books and reading since 1998. This year, there are even more opportunities:

• Encourage adults to spend more time reading to children

• Share stories that raise up the many voices that need to be amplified and heard

• Use books to help students discover their own voices and learn from the voices of others

• Encourage readers to believe in themselves and use their voices and stories for positive change

Use the Read Across America Day calendarBuild Your Stack® posts, and ReadWriteThink.org resources to support these efforts.

Read Across America Day: Celebrate a Nation of Diverse Readers

Join NEA to celebrate a nation of diverse readers with these recommended books, authors, and teaching resources that represent an array of experiences and cultures.

NEA is excited to bring Read Across America year-round to help motivate kids to read, bring the joys of reading to students of all ages, and make all children feel valued and welcome.

Review the recommended titles in this calendar and the Read Across America poster.

This NCTE initiative is focused exclusively on helping teachers build their book knowledge and their classroom libraries.

February 15
K - 12
Literacy-Related Event

Sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day has since 2012 encouraged teachers to share and celebrate effective teaching and learning that showcases innovation in the use of digital instructional technology.  Though Digital Learning Day does promote the effective use of contemporary tools and technologies, it is truly a day to reflect on the enhanced or transformed learning those tools support.

Ask students to reflect on something they recently learned how to do.  After a few minutes to write or talk with a partner, have students share what they learned as you record their topics for everyone to see.  Then lead a discussion around the role digital tools played in the different learning students shared.

  • How many of the examples were about learning to use a new digital tool?

  • How many examples featured students using a digital technology to facilitate or support their learning?

  • Which examples can students imagine doing differently with the support of a digital tool?

Then have students reflect on the varied ways digital learning plays a part in their everyday lives.

Celebrate Digital Learning Day today.

This page houses a collection of resources from past Digital Learning Days.

Find inspiration from a lesson plan from the Alliance for Excellent Education, arranged into themes such as language arts, STEM, and digital citizenship.

This collection of ReadWriteThink resources offer additional inspiration for considering the role digital technology can play in student learning.

Need help defining 21st Century literacies or the implications for classroom practice?  This collection of NCTE documents can help.

November 18
K - 7
Literacy-Related Event

The NCTE Charlotte Huck Award® for Outstanding Fiction for Children honors the work of educator Charlotte Huck, who championed the classroom use of storybooks to teach reading and language arts. The award was established in 2014 to promote and recognize excellence in the writing of fiction for children that invites compassion, imagination, and wonder.

After sharing one or more of the winning, honored, or recommended titles as a classroom read-aloud, invite students write and illustrate their own story in which someone learned how to be more compassionate or to feel empathy for those who are different from themselves.

Allow students to decide to tell a story from their own lives or to create characters and imagined situations that would inspire others to be more compassionate.  Share tools such as the Story Map and Cube Creator to help students plan and generate ideas.  Arrange for a time for students to share their stories with classmates or with younger students.

The Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children is announced today.

This festival, hosted by the University of Redlands, brings together authors and illustrators of children’s literature with teachers, librarians, and families.

Charlotte Huck’s HarperCollins biography page includes a link to her book Princess Furball, illustrated by Anita Lobel.

NCTE’s page for its children’s book awards, also including the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award® for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.

November 06
K - 6
Literacy-Related Event

Children's Book Week encourages children to enjoy new authors and books, and is celebrated in schools, libraries, homes, and bookstores during a selected week in May and November. During this event, celebrate children's literature with storytelling, parties, author and illustrator appearances, and other literacy events in your school and community. As part of the celebration, children are invited to help select the top children's book of the year by voting online or at their school or library.

The winners of the Children's Choice book awards will be announced during National Book Week. Before the winners are announced, children across the nation will be able to vote for their favorites. Invite your students to show why their favorite finalist should win by designing a promotional book cover.

  • First, have students read Children's Choice finalist books in their grade range. Younger students can read all five finalists, while older students may read fewer.
  • Then, ask each student to select his or her favorite finalist and brainstorm reasons why it is so good. Encourage students to consider specific elements, such as characters or plot.
  • Next, have students look at their brainstormed lists and select the ideas that could be depicted on the book cover. Challenge each student to design a book cover that will convince others that his or her favorite should win.
  • Finally, have students use the Book Cover Creator to create their book covers. They can then display their book covers with the book in a classroom or school display or on a bulletin board.
Celebrate National Children's Book Week!

Access information about this annual event on this site from the Children's Book Council. Included are dates for this event for the next five years, book week materials and information, and more.

Help children find the perfect book with these children's, teachers', and young adults' choices booklists from the International Literacy Association.

This resource from Scholastic provides a collection of suggestions for holding a successful Book Week event in your school.

September 23
9 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

On September 23, 1957, police officers had to be stationed around the Central High School campus to ensure the safety of the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine African American students who were to attend the school and, thus, break the color barrier. The right to an equal education was granted to all African American students by the United States Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Begin by viewing some of the footage from the actual event (you can access some of the footage at the PBS website). Ask students to jot down the thoughts and feelings they think might have been going on in the minds and hearts of the Little Rock Nine. Have students use these notes as the basis for a bio-poem that might have been written by one of the African American students on that historic day.

An alternative activity might be to show students portions of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that reunited the Little Rock Nine with some of the classmates who threatened and taunted them upon their arrival at Central High School. After viewing each segment, ask students to summarize their reactions to what they have seen and heard on the program. Were they surprised by anything they observed? If so, what surprised them and why?

Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was integrated in 1957.

This site celebrates the 50th anniversary of the integration of Central High School. Links to the historic event are provided, including links to information about the nine African American students who attended the school.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for the integration of Central High School, NPR compiled an extensive collection of resources, including interviews with Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

This Teaching Tolerance page includes resources that focus on primary documents from Brown v. the Board of Education, poetry, arts, and critical thinking. Additional links at the end connect to photographs and more classroom resources.

PBS offers a section on Southern School Desegregation as part of its Eyes on the Prize: American Civil Rights Movement feature.

November 23
5 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

According to the Wampanoag and the ancestors of the Plimoth settlers, no oral or written account confirms that the first Thanksgiving took place between them in 1621. The Wampanoag, and other Native Americans, did participate in daily and seasonal thanksgivings for thousands of years prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival. This process of thanksgiving continues today.

Provide students with a selection of texts about Thanksgiving. Invite students to partner-read their selected books, considering these questions:

  • From whose perspective is the story told?

  • Whose voices are active and passive?

  • What words are used to describe the groups?

  • Whose story has the most detail?

  • What details were offered or implied in the text or illustrations about Thanksgiving and each group’s lifestyle (e.g., food, clothing, beliefs, and traditions)?

  • Are the illustrations accurate? How do you know?

Next, share with students texts that are #OwnVoices. Oyate and American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) both provide critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books.

Select one of the #OwnVoice texts to read, like Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message, a children's picture book, by Chief Jake Swamp. This version of the Iroquois Thanksgiving Address, or Ganohonyohk, is written especially for children who want to know more about Six Nations Iroquois spirituality. The Thanksgiving Address is one of the key speeches of the Six Nations Iroquois.

End the session by allowing students to share "What are some things you are thankful for and where do they come from?"

The United States celebrates Thanksgiving Day today.

Oyate is a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed with honesty and integrity, and that all people know that our stories belong to us.

American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books.

The words in this book are based on the Thanksgiving Address, an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants, that are still spoken at ceremonial and governmental gatherings held by the Six Nations.

December 19
3 - 10
Author & Text

A resident of the United States, Eve Bunting was an acclaimed author of picture books and novels. Bunting's picture books tackled sensitive issues such as homelessness, death, aging, and war. Her books won numerous awards, including the Golden Kite Award and a Caldecott Medal in 1995 for Smoky Night. Eve Bunting passed away in 2023.

One trademark of Bunting's picture books is her ability to see events through the eyes of a child. Smoky Night deals with the Los Angeles race riots as seen from the perspective of a young boy watching the fires and the looters. His reactions to this event are, understandably, different from those of his mother and neighbors. Before reading this picture book aloud to students, read them a news article that relates the details of the events in Los Angeles. Ask students how a younger observer might be affected by these events and might see the events differently than an adult. After reading Smoky Night, assess the accuracy of students' perceptions.

As an alternative or follow-up activity, have students locate and read two different accounts of the events of September 11, 2001, one written by an adult and one written by a child. Ask them to compare the two accounts.

Author Eve Bunting was born in Ireland in 1928.

This page from the Reading Rockets website includes the text of an interview with author Eve Bunting, several audio clips of the interview, and an annotated list of some of her most popular books.


Kidsreads.com offers a brief biography of Bunting and links to information about a few of her books. The biography is written simply, so it is an excellent resource for younger students to obtain biographical information on Bunting.


This feature from Scholastic includes a brief biography of Bunting, the transcript of an interview with her, and a bibliography of her books.


Houghton Mifflin offers this collection of classroom activities for use with several of Bunting's books, including Train to Somewhere, The Wednesday Surprise, and The Memory String.


November 07
3 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

Election Day is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The first uniform Election Day was observed on November 4, 1845.

Have your students get involved with Election Day by creating posters to advertise Election Day and encourage registered voters to exercise their right to vote. Have small groups of students brainstorm lists of reasons why people should vote. Then, have them work in their groups to create posters using poster paper and paint or felt-tipped markers. Alternatively, they can use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press to create flyers. Students can also write persuasive essays that underscore the importance of getting out to vote or create a public service announcement or other multimedia persuasive piece. The ReadWriteThink lessons MyTube: Changing the World with Video Public Service Announcements and Students as Creators: Exploring Multimedia can be adapted for use with this activity.

Today is Election Day.

This website, from the National Museum of American History, looks at the history of voting methods in the United States. The resource explores how ballots and voting systems have evolved over the years as a response to political, social, and technological change, transforming the ways in which Americans vote.

This resource, from PBS, introduces elementary-aged children to the importance of voting in a fun, interactive way.

This website, from the Library of Congress, focuses on some of the memorable elections since the first uniform Election Day on November 4, 1845.

This site includes a timeline of media coverage of important presidential races and presidencies.

March 09
7 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

When Barbie was released in 1959, she immediately stepped into controversy. The idea of a doll with an adult woman's features was brand-new. The market, though, was eager for a doll with lots of clothes, including bridal gowns and swimsuits. But by the 1970s, people began wondering why she did not have a business suit or a doctor's scrubs, and in more recent years, whether the body image she presents is healthy to young girls' self-esteem. Sales continue to grow, and so does the debate.

While Barbie's collection of accessories has changed over the years, her figure has remained relatively unchanged-despite questions about its effect on the self-esteem of the children who play with the doll. Take this opportunity to explore body image and advertising:

  • Have students bring in pictures from the magazines that they typically read. Students should bring pictures of both male and female subjects.
  • Post these pictures around the room and have students walk around with a two-columned chart with headings Male and Female which they will use to record words and phrases that describe what they see in the pictures. Students should then share their lists with the class.
  • Ask students to write about how gender is represented in the advertisements they see. Is this typical of how men or women appear in movies, on TV, etc.? Which celebrities most exemplify these characteristics?
  • After sharing responses in a think-pair-share arrangement, have students explain whether these gender representations are accurate in real life. Ask students to consider the effect that these representations can have on people's self-esteem.
  • Conclude by discussing why advertisers portray males and females in this way. What is the goal and purpose of advertising?
The Barbie doll was unveiled in 1959.

This History Channel article provides information about the origin and evolution of this famous doll.

PBS offers information about the inventor of Barbie.

BBC News shares Barbie's measurements and shows how a woman would look with Barbie's proportions.

Poets.org offers this poem by Denise Duhamel that compares Barbie to Buddha. Students will enjoy the sarcastic tone of this piece.