14th African American Read-In Expected to Draw 800 First Graders

The African American Read-In is back.

After the polar vortex led to cancellation last year, the 14th read-in returns to Maucker Union at the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. More than 800 first graders from Waterloo and Hudson school districts are expected to attend. 

The event celebrates the literary works of African American authors during Black History Month and is part of the National African American Read-In which engages more than one million readers annually. 

This year’s special guest is Ty Allan Jackson, an award-winning children’s book author, literacy advocate, publisher and motivational speaker.  He is the founder of Big Head Books, LLC, a literacy organization that aims to introduce children to the joys of reading. 

Future teachers are actively involved in the read-in, along with faculty, staff, community and celebrity readers. Activities include:        

  • Individualized readings from books by and about African American culture selected by Katelyn Brown, UNI youth services librarian, and Rod Library staff 
  • UNI mascots TC and TK
  • Literacy-related activities 
  • Jump roping, arts and crafts, pantomime and playacting 

Gloria Kirkland-Holmes, associate professor in curriculum and instruction at the College of Education, coordinates the event with volunteer partners across campus. The read-in is held annually in conjunction with the African American Children and Families Conference, slated for February 27-28 at the college.