Embracing Our Differences Reading Day

For Embracing Our Differences Reading Day 2020 (held on Tuesday, March 10), lessons of diversity, inclusion, respect and integrity were delivered to 7,800 students in 440 classrooms at 60 schools Sarasota and Manatee County classrooms through the writings of Todd Parr and Patricia Polacco.

Embracing Our Differences, in partnership with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with support from The Patterson Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, United Way Suncoast and an anonymous family foundation, provided volunteer readers, one classroom copy of the selected books below, and a separate title for each student to take home as part of the initiative.

To view photos of Reading Day 2020, click here.

To view a short video of Reading Day 2020 by Bill Wagy/The Patterson Foundation, click here.

2021 Classroom & Volunteer Sign-Up

Please check back in December 2020 for the spring 2021 Reading Day classroom and volunteer sign-ups.

2020 Classroom Book Selections

Each book shared in classrooms was designed to stimulate conversations on diversity, bullying, character education and respect for others.

Pre-Kindergarten
It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr  Mr. Parr's book spreads a message acceptance, self-confidence and individuality while celebrating diversity. Sometimes the advice is practical. “It’s okay to need some help… “It’s okay to dream BIG.” Other declarations are more fun. “It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub.”

Kindergarten & First Grade
Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco  Old Babushka, known throughout all of Moskva for her beautifully painted eggs, is preparing her eggs for the Easter Festival when she takes in an injured goose. They live happily together until one day when the goose accidentally overturns a basket, breaking all of Babushka's lovingly crafted eggs. But the next morning Babushka has a surprise awaiting her in the basket. She cries: "A miracle!" It is one of many in this charmingly told tale of friendship and caring.

Second Grade
Chicken Sunday
 by Patricia Polacco  After being initiated into a neighbor's family by a solemn backyard ceremony, a young Russian American girl and her African American brothers' determine to buy their gramma Eula a beautiful Easter hat. But their good intentions are misunderstood, until they discover just the right way to pay for the hat that Eula's had her eye on. A loving family story woven from the author's childhood.

Third Grade
Mr. Lincoln's Way by Patricia Polacco  Mr. Lincoln, the principal, knows that "Mean Gene" isn't really bad - he's just repeating things he's heard at home. Can he find a way to get through to Eugene and show him that the differences between people are what make them special?

 

2020 Free Books for Students

In collaboration with our community partners, the following books were gifted to each student in participating classrooms:

Pre-Kindergarten
It's Ok to Be Different by Todd Parr 
Mr. Parr's book spreads a message acceptance, self-confidence and individuality while celebrating diversity. Sometimes the advice is practical. “It’s okay to need some help… “It’s okay to dream BIG.” Other declarations are more fun. “It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub.” (Additional classroom resources available HERE.)

Kindergarten
Ish by
Peter H. Reynolds  Drawing is what Ramon does. It's what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon's older brother, Leon, turns Ramon's carefree sketches into joyless struggles. (Additional classroom resources available HERE.)

First Grade
Green Pants by 
Kenneth Kraegel  Jameson only ever wears green pants. When he wears green pants, he can do anything. But if he wants to be in his cousin's wedding, he's going to have to wear a tuxedo, and that means black pants. It's an impossible decision: Jameson would love nothing more than to be in his cousin's wedding, but how can he not wear green pants? Will Jameson turn down this big honor, or will he find a way to make everyone happy, including himself?

Second Grade
Those Shoes by
Maribeth Boelts  All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. But Jeremy’s grandma tells him they don’t have room for "want," just "need," and what Jeremy needs are new boots for winter. Jeremy comes to realize that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants. (additional classroom resources available HERE.)

Third Grade
Jabari Jumps by
Gaia Cornwall  Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He's finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he's a great jumper, so he's not scared at all. "Looks easy," says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board.

About Reading Days

For the past seven years, Embracing Our Differences Reading Day has engaged tens of thousands of elementary school students throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. The objective has been to show children that reading is fun and important by stimulating student-mentor conversations about diversity, bullying and respect. In 2020, with the help of more than 300 volunteers, this initiative reached 7,800 students in 440 classrooms in 60 Manatee and Sarasota County classrooms.

This massive outreach reflects a collaboration between Embracing Our Differences and the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a joint effort supported by The Patterson Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, United Way Suncoast and an anonymous family foundation. The program’s profound impact earned national honors when the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading recognized it as a “Best Event” at its All-America City Awards Ceremony in 2016.