Read Across Oklahoma

Read Across Oklahoma Returns to the Oklahoma City Zoo with a Free Book Giveaway and Online Activities

Read Across Oklahoma, the state’s premier literacy event for kindergarten and early grade children, returns on Tuesday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a free book giveaway at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. The first 1,500 children with paid Zoo admission or a ZOOfriends membership pass will receive a free book and are invited to participate in a variety of interactive learning stations.

Families and classrooms can also participate virtually by visiting the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) website at to enjoy a special video of children’s author Betty Selakovich Casey reading this year’s featured book, That is a Hat. Online visitors will also enjoy seeing select OKC Zoo animals and habitats as part of the video.

Read Across Oklahoma is part of the statewide My First Library program coordinated by ODL, an early literacy initiative that helps develop literacy skills and promotes family reading. During a regular school year, the program distributes 1,900 books each month to early learning classrooms.

“Children who are exposed to books at an early age and have books to call their own, develop better vocabularies and are better prepared for school,” said Leslie Gelders, literary resources coordinator at ODL. “Getting books into the hands of young children is essential, and our partnership with the Zoo is an important avenue to help children discover the wonderful world of books.”

“The Zoo is always excited to support Read Across Oklahoma,” said Candice Rennels, OKC Zoo’s director of public relations. “Seeing the animals at the Zoo, taking home a book, and participating in activities that celebrate reading makes for a wonderful day of discovery for young children.”

That is a Hat, by Tulsa author and illustrator Betty Selakovich Casey, is a great feature book for this year’s event, Gelders said. “The Read Across Oklahoma committee selected this book because of Casey’s beautiful illustrations and charming story.” The book is available for purchase at Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City, or at your favorite local bookstore and online.

The virtual side of the event provides opportunities for children and classrooms across Oklahoma to participate, Gelders said. “The online activities we provided during the pandemic proved to be very popular, and we wanted to continue this opportunity for young people to connect to the event no matter where they live in the state.”

Visit to find the virtual activities. Families planning a visit to the Zoo can purchase their tickets in advance at Families can also continue the reading adventure by visiting their local public library to find books and services for all ages.

Additional Read Across Oklahoma sponsors include the Oklahoma City Zoo, Target, Tinker Federal Credit Union, Krueger Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Oklahoma Literacy Coalition, OKC Metro Literacy Coalition, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Capitol Hill High School, Whiz Kids, Metro Technology Centers, Junior League of Oklahoma City, Capitol Hill Graffix, OK Complete Health, OETA, Metropolitan Library System, Northwest Classen High School, Rotary Club of North OKC, and Pizza Hut.

For more information about Read Across Oklahoma, contact Judy Tirey at or call 405-521-2034.

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries is the official State Library of Oklahoma. It serves the information and records management needs of state government, assists with public library development, coordinates library and information technology projects for the state, and serves the general public through its specialized collections.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35. The Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry at 4:00 p.m.  Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Visit for more information.

A former middle school, high school, and college teacher, Betty Selakovich Casey is the editor of TulsaKids, a monthly award-winning parenting magazine. Her other books include The Prince of the Prairie (2017) and May Finds Her Way (2013). Her forthcoming book will be the picture book The World is Blue (RoadRunner Press, Spring 2024) with Oklahoma musician Cindy Parks. The book will be Cindy’s debut and the story is based on one of her original songs with the same title and Betty’s illustrations accompanying.