African American Read In Toolkit - National Council of Teachers of English

Where do events take place?

Read-Ins can happen just about anywhere, from homes, to libraries, to schools, to community centers and beyond. Each year NCTE asks event-holders to fill out a “report card” giving us details on where the event took place, how many people participated, and what books were read. You can see a calendar of events from 2019–2022 here, as well as listings from previous years: 2018 events; 2017 events.

Thank you to all that participated in the 2023 African American Read-In! View the 2023 Report Card.

Find a 2023 African American Read-In event in our event calendar and submit your 2024 event to be included!


Host reports for the 2024 African American Read-In are due by March 15, 2024.

Submit a Host Report

What do you do for an African American Read-In? 

The format of these events varies widely, but all events have a few things in common:

  • Texts written by African American authors are shared.
  • Participants either listen to or provide the readings.
  • A count is taken of who attends, and that count is documented in the “report card” as a measure of the global reach of this program each year.

Beyond these commonalities, events have included:

  • Readings by authors
  • Poetry slams
  • Musical acts, performances, reenactments, or plays
  • Film screenings including discussions of paired texts
  • A common reading in advance of a single text, like a book club
  • Writing or art-making and the sharing of that by participants
  • Featured guests such as local leaders or community heroes
  • Book drives to collect books by African American authors to share with schools
  • Activities for young children (e.g., bedtime stories)
  • Media coverage to raise the profile of local authors
  • Ongoing community outreach after the event that spreads the love of literacy
  • Awards of recognition for African American authors within the community

What books are good to read? 

It’s a sign of the success of programs like the African American Read-In and other campaigns to support diverse authors that the answer to this question is slowly growing each year. Here are some booklists from previous years that might spark your interest, but these are by no means comprehensive.

One important note to consider: the African American Read-In was started specifically to create a bigger audience for African American authors. So in the spirit of supporting this core mission, these booklists do not include texts that feature African American characters but that are not written by African American authors.

Promotional Materials

Articles and Press

History of the National African American Read-In


At its November 1989 meeting, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English accepted the Issues Committee’s recommendation that the Black Caucus sponsor a nationwide read-in on the first Sunday of February. At the request of educators, Monday was designated for educational institutions. Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott, an active member of NCTE and the Black Caucus, brought the idea to the committee. It was envisioned that following a decade of rigorous campaigning for participants, the African American Read-Ins would become a traditional part of Black History Month celebrations. In 1990, the National Council of Teachers of English joined in the sponsorship of the African American Read-In Chain. The commitment for nationwide promotion extends from 1990 to the present.


Dr. David E. Kirkland explains the importance of the Read-In:



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“It is important for all of us to see ourselves in books.” – Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott, founder of the African American Read-In