Celebrate World Read Aloud Day

793 million people worldwide cannot read. That number astounds me. I adore reading to my children, but I realize I may be taking this treasured time for granted when I can snuggle up and share a story with them.

World Read Aloud Day is March 6th, and it is being celebrated across the globe. This celebration of literacy started back in 2010 with 35 countries and 40,000 participants. In just 3 years it grew to hundreds of thousands of participants in over 65 countries.

So what can we do here in Billings, Montana?

Michelle Breum, Parent and Child Reading Assistance, is locally helping celebrate World Read Aloud Day, March 6th, at Parmly Billings Library for the second year in a row. Cindy Patterson, Children’s Librarian, will begin reading during the scheduled 10:30 am Story Time. Michelle will follow Cindy by reading The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree. There will also be a reading of Light Up the Night by Jean Raidy, and an autographed copy will be given away to one lucky “reader.” Michelle will have bookmarks for all who attend.

If you cannot make it to Story Time at the library, then make a point to read a book, magazine, or newspaper (even this blog) to a loved one in person or over the telephone. Another option is to “pay it forward” by donating books, like following the example of elementary schools such as Boulder and its book drive for RiverStone Health. The Junior League of Billings also held a new and used book drive for the Friendship House and its Friendship Academy.

My favorite recommendations from LitWorld are for kids to celebrate by hosting a sleepover with a “read-aloud-athon” or dress up as a favorite literary character.

Help your local community by completing a literacy survey, if you have children 8 and under. This survey is the result of a collaboration of 27 organizations working together to form the Yellowstone County Best Beginnings Council. This Council’s mission is to improve school readiness outcomes for children aged 0-8. The survey is available online until March 31st, and you could even win books or a gift card.

When my eldest child was in second grade, I was concerned because he preferred me reading to him rather than him silently reading. I thought of it as laziness, but his teacher encouraged me to continue reading aloud to him as long as he would let me. Now at 12 years old, he still enjoys listening in when I am reading to his younger siblings.

Tips for reading aloud, as adapted from www.readwritethink.org:

1. Talk about the book before you read it. Ask questions about the subject. Discuss the cover and talk about what is on the jacket flaps.

2. While reading, stop and ask open-ended questions such as:

o What do you think will happen next?

o Why do you think the character did that?

o What do you think is happening in the picture?

o Has anything like this ever happened to you?

3. It’s OK if the child asks questions while you read. Stop and answer them.

4. Read with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Use funny voices. Read loudly or quietly as appropriate. Be silly even.

5. Can the child read a little? If so, take turns reading. Let the child finish sentences you start, especially if there is repetition or rhyming.

6. When finished, talk about the book. Discuss similarities to other books. Ask for opinions. Did the child have a favorite page? Read it again or have the child read it to you.

I am proud to say I was unable to complete this blog in one sitting. My four year old sat on my lap with Curious George Flies a Kite. I couldn’t resist that distraction and felt it was only appropriate.

For more information about World Read Aloud Day, please visit www.litworld.org.