This guest blog has been co-authored by Pam Allyn, Founder, LitWorld, and Amber Peterson, Director of Program Innovation, LitWorld.
Ten years ago, in a second-grade classroom on a cold, wintry day, the LitWorld team gathered students for a read aloud. One student exclaimed: “This is so much fun! We should do this more often!” And when the team explained that people sometimes don’t realize the power of the read aloud to teach children how to read well, the child said: “Why don’t we have a party for the read aloud? Because when it’s my birthday everyone pays attention to me!” The LitWorld team thought this was a wonderful idea and invited our community to the “world’s largest party for the power of stories.” And a miracle happened: notes, emails, letters, and social messages came pouring in from around the world. “We are doing it!” From Raghurajpur, India to Kibera, Nairobi to Omaha, Nebraska, the world shone with the pure love and delight for the shared experience of stories.
What began as a love letter to the read aloud has since become an international movement engaging millions of people in over 100 countries each year, bringing people together in joyous times and hard times. During each year of the pandemic, for example, World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) has been a touchstone for creating a respite from isolation and a doable way of connecting people across time and space, albeit virtually.
On February 2, 2022, LitWorld and Microsoft invite you to come together for this year’s WRAD. Join us as we honor the joy and power of reading and sharing stories. From hosting intimate classroom gatherings and organizing community wide parades, to broadcasting radio programs across countries and trying a new technology to celebrate WRAD, everyone can participate. Whether someone is a grandmother, teacher, country leader, executive, or child, they can encourage literacy access and promote joyful and empowering practices for their communities in one special day.
Did you know that reading aloud is a literacy best practice? Studies show that daily reading aloud to children puts them almost a full year ahead of children who do not receive daily read alouds regardless of income, education level, or cultural background. Reading aloud offers opportunities for individuals and communities to share ideas and learn about the world. As such, it is also a powerful tool for amplifying underrepresented voices and paving new pathways for global citizenship and participation for all people.
Fluency, the ability to read with accuracy, speed, and expression, is a critical reading skill fostered by the read aloud. On WRAD, we celebrate all the ways that innovation is making teaching reading feel vibrant and meaningful for the new era. For example, with Reading Progress, a new app available in Microsoft Teams, teachers can measure fluency while students build it—all at the same time. On WRAD, keep an eye out for affirmations for those who use Reading Progress to measure and promote fluency building. At home, school, and all year long, we can promote the development of fluency in all our children by sharing the read aloud, as mentors and as champions, and by listening to our children’s read alouds. These are simple ways in school and at home to value the role that reading with accuracy, speed, and expression can have on our children’s lifelong learning.
Here are four tips to help you make the most of this year’s WRAD:
Tip 1: Read or share what you love. Read or share a story that matters to you with a loved one or even someone you are meeting for the first time. Perhaps it’s a family story, a story you have created, or a beloved text from your culture or family. Value reading aloud in your home language. WRAD is a great way to illuminate what is powerful about cultural and linguistic diversity.
Tip 2: Practice and celebrate fluency. Practice using your voice, and your expressions, to make a story come alive. Videotape yourself to share on social media, inspiring others.
Tip 3: Be a deep listener. Make space for all listeners share their thoughts and opinions. Ask questions like, “What are you wondering about?” Or ask, “What surprises you?” These kinds of questions further a child’s sense of ownership and give you a lot of information about what they are thinking.
Tip 4: Empower children’s and teens’ voices. Invite children and teens to select their own favorite stories. With their voices soaring, spirits shining, and stories shimmering, they show the way to a new world of belonging, of connection, and of achievement.
To add to the fun, Flipgrid has partnered with Scholastic and Litworld for a free live event with bestselling author and former educator Tami Charles. Classrooms and families are invited to join us on February 2, 2022, at 10:00 AM PT to meet Tami who will be sharing and reading aloud her book “All Because You Matter” reminding students that they matter, and they always will.
Here are some more creative ways your class can join in this celebration:
1. Join the Build a Story Challenge from LitWorld team and share your story with the world.
2. Register for our free Flipgrid Live Event with Tami Charles.
3. Hablas espanol? Check out our Live Event with author Elisa Guerra at 7:00 AM PT.
4. Explore ready-made Topics from the Scholastic team to spark conversations in your classroom.
The read aloud is one of humanity's most foundational practices for connecting and sharing. Shared stories allow us to tap into our emotions and collective memories, giving us a chance to relive and reimagine what the world, and our place in it, could and should be. Sharing stories, whether they are our own or written by others, allows us to be creative and expressive and be in a shared human experience. We hope you will join us for this year’s World Read Aloud Day!
If you participate in World Read Aloud Day using Reading Progress, post this badge on your Twitter feed!