Student Reader Day

We match students with authors for a day of reading.

Humanities TN matches authors with schools and provides free books to students to underscore the importance of literacy and literature in young people’s lives and encourage young people to read for pleasure and personal growth. For many students – from middle to high school – this is the first they’ve ever met an author.

Tennessee educators, please contact if you are interested in learning how your students can participate in Student Reader Day events. Interested authors, please click here.

Our Student Reader Day program is a favorite among teachers, students, and authors alike. In Spring 2023, Ruta Sepetys visited eight Tennessee middle and high schools, engaging with more than 1,000 students in discussion about her book, I Must Betray You.

Humanities Tennessee provided a copy of Ruta’s book for every student, and they enthusiastically welcomed her for discussion, questions, and even signing their books. Several schools shared that this is the first time an author had ever visited.

Of her visit to Cheatham County High School in Ashland City, Ruta shared, “The teachers used the book as a “Staff Book Club Pick,” and many had read it prior to the event to prepare. There seems to be a very high level of empathy among the students at here. Several shared their personal backgrounds with me and said that their greatest dream was to be able to help others or give them a voice.”

On October 22, 2022 we presented a virtual Student Reader Day with Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The program came about through a partnership with The Library of Congress.

It was, by far, the largest Student Reader Day in recent memory (eclipsing 2020’s ~1,000 book event) with a more than 4,000 books sent to schools throughout Tennessee and roughly 3,500 students tuned in for the live broadcast. Sensing a general fatigue with the “author-head-on-screen-talking-to-other-head-on-screen” formula and sensing an opportunity to do a portion of the presentation a bit differently, we decided to showcase the author in an unconventional space: that is, inside the videogame Minecraft.

The event also weaved together contributions from various schools: submitted questions, a student introduction, live interviews, teacher-submitted photos of participating schools and “responses to the work” (such as Minecraft world builds inspired by the book).

From the teachers:

“There was an influx on circulation for books by Jason.”

“Students have asked to start a Book Club and the Assistant Principal has agreed to this.”

“Jason Reynolds’ written words are captivating. The ability for middle school students to hear his thought process about writing and understand that they are his target audience when writing is powerful. So, yes, our students appreciated the thoughts he shared. Our ESL students were engaged. And, our disinterested readers were viewing the virtual event with intensity.”

Transcript for Student Reader Day 2019 recap video (below) can be found here.

Authors who have participated in past Student Reader Day events include:

  • Kristin Tubb (A Dog Like Daisy)
  • Shannon Greenland (Scouts)
  • Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
  • Alice Faye Duncan (Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968)
  • Andrew Maraniss (Strong Inside: Young Readers Edition)
  • Mohsin Hamid (Exit West)
  • Cressida Crowell (The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic)
  • Kate Beasley (Lions and Liars)
  • Molly Brooks (Sanity and Tallulah)
  • Tom Angleberger (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda)
  • Paolo Bacigalupi (Ship Breaker)
  • Kelly Barnhill (The Mostly True Story of Jack)
  • Tracy Barrett (Dark of the Moon)
  • Gitty Daneshvari (School of Fear)
  • Junot Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
  • Karen Joy Fowler (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves)
  • Helen Hemphill (The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones)
  • Silas House (Same Sun Here)