SMSD News: Read Across SMSD September – Find the Right Words

Read Across SMSD 2022-2023

 We are excited to begin a new year of Read Across SMSD!

Offered in partnership with NEA-Shawnee Mission, the Shawnee Mission School District is proud to continue a community-wide celebration of books called Read Across SMSD.

This year, Read Across SMSD is supported generously by the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation. Through the Foundation, books related to the monthly theme will be provided to each Shawnee Mission school!

 “We are thrilled that through the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, every Shawnee Mission school will have access to the Read Across SMSD titles,” Kim Hinkle, Shawnee Mission Education Foundation executive director expressed.

We all thank the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation for its support. 

The district encourages reading for all ages, and has modeled this program after the National Education Association’s Read Across America program.

“We are proud to support this chance for all of our students to see themselves reflected in books or read about worlds and characters that might be different from them,” Jill Johnson, NEA-Shawnee Mission President shared.

Read Across SMSD supports the district academic goals and the strategic plan belief that our community’s strength is derived from its diversity. It’s an opportunity for all of us to celebrate stories and cultivate a culture of belonging for every student. 

September: Find the Right Words

Each month of Read Across SMSD brings a new theme. This September the focus is on how challenging it can be to “Find the Right Words.” 

All featured books this month highlight how even though it can be hard to know what to say in challenging situations, it is possible to figure it out with a little time and effort.

The elementary featured title in September is “Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome” by Kat Zhang. In this book, Amy is excited to meet a new classmate from China. With help from her family, she finally figures out a way to help her new friend feel welcome in his school and community.

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard recently joined two students at Shawanoe Elementary School who shared their own story of being new students. Natasha started school at Shawanoe after moving from Mexico. Daniel was a new student from Guatemala.

They explained that their teachers and classmates were intentional about making sure they felt welcome at their new school. For example, the Shawanoe cafeteria displays flags representing places students have come from around the world.

They talked about how it is common in classrooms for students to practice saying each others’ names correctly. There are even students at the school who take time to give a new Shawanoe t-shirt to new classmates and take time to check in on how they are doing. Natasha explained how much these efforts meant to her as a new student.

“One of the best parts of coming to school was knowing everyday I had friends in my class who would help me if I needed it,” Natasha shared.

 September Reading and Learning Resources

Read Across SMSD is modeled after the national Read Across America program and is led in partnership with NEA-Shawnee Mission. Access to books for Shawnee Mission students is made possible through the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.

 Here are the Read Across America September titles, encouraging readers to “Find the Right Words.”  

“Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome”

By Kat Zhang

Click here for more information.

“The Secret Battle of Evan Pao”

By Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Click here for more information.

“Vinyl Moon”

By Mahogany L. Browne

Click here for more information.  

The links above provide activity ideas, discussion ideas, and reflective writing questions, related resources and more titles to try for each age group.

Click here to find out more and participate in Read Across SMSD. Post your participation on social media using #ReadAcrossSMSD.

Shawnee Mission School District is the third largest school district in Kansas. The district serves students in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade in 34 elementary schools, five middle schools, five high schools, and several educational centers. It has been consistently ranked among the finest school districts nationwide for its high student performance. The district’s objective is that each student will have a personalized learning plan that will prepare them for college and careers, with the interpersonal skills they need for life success. The district serves a diverse student population from 14 cities within northeast Johnson County, Kansas, which is 10 miles from downtown Kansas City, Missouri. For more information, visit

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