Celebrating Reading Aloud at BookPeople of Moscow

Today we are honored to share a guest blog from our friends at BookPeople of Moscow. This is their second year celebrating World Read Aloud Day and we hope their celebration inspires you to join the World Read Aloud Day movement. Without further ado, here's Carol from BookPeople of Moscow:

Thanks to the amazing Jesica, a former elementary teacher who is in charge of our children's section, we host read aloud story times at our store twice a week, and are blessed to have big crowds. Devoted families come, and also some local schoolteachers bring their preschoolers to our store for regular field trips. They troop downtown no matter what the weather. The children get some exercise, become more familiar with our community and our store, and experience the magic of story time! The children are always well behaved and enthralled with the stories and our grown up customers love to see the children being read to.

I remember going to story time at the library and at school when I was a kid, and how special that time was, just being still and listening and getting completely caught up in a story. Some of the books that were read to me (like The Hero from Otherwhere, that my 5th grade teacher read to us) have stuck with me more than many others I have read. I read aloud to my own child starting from when he was two weeks old, and even now that he is 13, he still occasionally gets his dad to read to him. Even better, sometimes he now reads aloud to us. The times we share with a book are the highlight of our day, and always a good time, no matter what else happens. I know that reading aloud is also a huge part of Jesica's family life with her two boys too.

So celebrating World Read Aloud Day was a natural for us at BookPeople of Moscow. We learned about it with not much time to spare before the actual day in 2013, and we quickly decided that simply having a story time all day long with guest readers from the community would be the way to go. Very low tech, and easy to flexible. We grabbed a piece of paper and started signing people up to read in 1/2 hour increments, beginning with city council people, famous local authors, the mayor, a firefighter, a teacher, the children's librarian from the public library, thespians who wanted to read portions of Hamlet… and on and on until we had a full day of reading aloud scheduled!

Once the guest star readers were announced (we use press releases, posters, a sandwich board in front of the store, and Facebook to publicize our events) the schools started planning their field trips and we ended up with large groups of listeners all morning long, and smaller groups in the afternoon. The construction crews who were working on the street outside weren't even safe - we got one of them to come inside wearing his hard hat to read Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site. We had grownups reading to grownups later on the day, proving that WRAD is not just for children.

This year we're planning the same kind of low tech event, and Jesica is in the process of getting the scheduled filled up with our guest readers. The thespians are planning something special too, and I can't wait to find out what they've chosen to read aloud for all of us.

--Carol Spurling, BookPeople of Moscow

BookPeople of Moscow was founded in downtown Moscow in 1973 and has been the Palouse's favorite independent and locally-owned bookstore ever since. Connect with BookPeople on Facebook and join their joyful reading community from wherever you live!

Singing Book Reviews, Potty Training and Other Benefits of Reading Aloud

Today we are honored to share a guest blog by our WRADvocate Lisa Cohn. She and her son Michael Cohn are co-authors of the award-winning “Bash And Lucy Fetch Confidence.” They were recently featured on the Today show for Michael’s love of books and YouTube book reviews. Learn more by visiting BashAndLucy.com.

When my son Michael was a toddler, I had trouble potty-training him, until I came up with an idea: If I did something he loved—really loved—while he was sitting on the potty, then maybe he’d sit there long enough to learn how to use the potty.

So I lured him to the potty with a book or two. And I offered to read to him while he sat. In no time, my strategy worked.

Now Michael is five, and he continues to link most bodily functions with being read a book.

It goes like this: “I’ll eat two cheese sandwiches if you read me two books.” Or, “I’ll stop playing long enough to go pee if you read to me first."

We don’t just bargain about bodily functions. Everything is a read-aloud deal.

As soon as he wakes, Michael says something like, “Let’s read. I can’t go to school without finding out what happened in “Nate the Great and the Missing Key.” Next, of course, we’re back to trying to get him to eat. “Read to me while I have breakfast,” he insists.

Michael then packs his 24 Scooby-Doo! Collect The Clue books into a bag, saying that he plans to share them with his friends on the playground at school.  When I pick him up a few hours later, he asks me to read to him and his friends on the top of the jungle gym. And yes, I read to him and four or five friends perched at the tippy-top of the playground.

Why do I spend what seems like half my day reading to Michael? The benefits are enormous. First of all, it’s a great way to connect with him. I ignore the buzzing of texts, emails and tweets issuing from my iPhone for a few precious moments and we snuggle and laugh and talk.

We have lots to talk about. After each book comes the review. Michael loves to provide his analysis. “This Scooby-Doo book was different than most of them because Shaggy gets trapped,” he says. “That never happened before.” Or, “Usually the monster is a person wearing a mask. In ‘Scooby-Doo! And You: The Case of the Leaping Lion’ the monster actually is a picture made by a computer.

While he reviews, he makes friends. That’s another benefit of our read-aloud time. At the bookstore, after we read a book, he invariably starts talking to a dad and kid about the story. He also gives his reviews to the check-out person, climbing up on the shelf where he’s supposed to be depositing his books. “I give ‘Walter the Farting Dog” 25 stars,” he says.

Michael learns so much from the books I read to him. He often spouts facts gleaned from Velma in Scooby-Doo—facts about the physics behind waves, for example. And of course, sharing his love of books has helped make Michael a great communicator. If you’ll listen, he’ll talk—about the cool dad in “Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble,” or the follow-you-everywhere “Oliver” character in Nate the Great.

Michael’s book reviews, which appear on our YouTube channel, landed him on the Today Show, an event that was pretty big in my life, but just another day in the bookstore for Michael. Now he’s discovered yet another way to share his love of books: He started writing singing book reviews. You can watch one here:

From the potty to the piano, Michael takes his books with him everywhere and integrates them into everything he does. We hope his enthusiasm for books is contagious; that’s one of the many reasons we’re celebrating World Read Aloud Day March 5, with a Skype in the Classroom lesson. Parents and teachers, please join us by reading to your children on World Read Aloud Day.

We promise: We won’t make you sing—or go potty.

Meet WRADvocate Ambassador Cathy Trementozzi

Cathy Trementozzi is an executive leader with a passion enhancing business performance.  She resides in New Jersey and is a 3 time WRADvocate Ambassador. She is a voracious reader, literacy advocate, and a great friend of LitWorld. 

We asked Cathy why she celebrates World Read Aloud Day and to share her special plans. Here is what she had to say:

"Reading is a skill that doesn’t come easily to everyone. I know this because it didn’t come easily to me. As a preschooler, I looked forward to weekly story hour at the public library. As the librarian read aloud, I would allow myself to be transported on adventurous journeys where I would meet new people, explore new places, and learn new things. 

In first grade I was in awe of a classmate who read well beyond his years. He confidently used different voices for each character and engaged his audience. I was inspired and looked forward to the day that I, too, could read.

Our teacher separated the class into reading groups, each titled with bird names (Blue Birds, Red Birds, and Yellow Birds).  When called, we would flap our wings and quickly “fly” to our nest to read. The flock names were a nice way of grouping us into our reading skill level—below average, average or above average.  I longed to be in the group with the above-average birds.

I took my goal seriously and learned to read, as did many of my classmates.  I didn’t like getting up in front of my classmates to read aloud, but even at that young age I knew it was what I had to do to become a better reader.

Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Pokey Little Puppy, and Madeline set me on a path to discover the joy of reading. Writer Alberto Manguel said, “At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader."

I cherish that moment when I became the reader that I longed to be.  I celebrate World Read Aloud Day for the many children waiting for their moment and for the people, like me, whose moments permeate every aspect of our lives.

In addition to spreading the word on social media, I will be hosting a WRAD event and will be reading Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.  It's a hilarious book about plucky barnyard cows that unite to improve their working conditions, air their grievances, and ultimately go on strike.  The cows turn the farm upside down, and with the help of a neutral duck mediator, the exasperated farmer finally makes concessions.  As a Human Resources professional, I love this book as it encourages people of all ages to profess their value and peacefully stand up for their rights."

--Cathy Trementozzi

Stories Connect Us: Creating a Global World Read Aloud Day Community

We are honored to have our WRADvocate, Andy Plemmons, as our guest blogger today. Read on to hear how Andy will celebrate World Read Aloud Day on March 5th.

In 2013, World Read Aloud Day expanded my students’ world beyond the walls of our school.  It was our first time participating in an event such as this by using Skype to connect with libraries, classrooms, and authors outside of our school. Seeing the energy from students, hearing spoken words coming together across thousands of miles, and making connections to new collaborative friends made me realize that this kind of experience is powerful for students and something that I want to continue to be a part of in my library.  

Last year, I was a bit late in planning my World Read Aloud Day connections.  I probably started in early to mid-February, but I still managed to connect with 9 schools and authors on World Read Aloud Day. Thanks to an active community of Twitter users and author Kate Messner's wonderful list of World Read Aloud Day authors, it was easy to reach out and find others willing to connect. This year you can also arrange for an author read aloud using Skype in the classroom!

This year, I started the WRAD conversation early. Teaming up with my friend Shannon Miller, we launched posts on each of our blogs to begin connecting libraries and classrooms around the world.  Educators could add their own WRAD schedules to the shared Google Doc and begin planning connections.  Since WRAD falls during the same week as Read Across America, I decided to expand our celebration beyond just one day.

Here’s a glimpse at what our week will look like. On March 3rd, we’ll kick off the week with in-person guest readers from our community. These readers will share favorite Dr. Seuss books in every classroom in our school.  Immediately following this, our World Read Aloud connections will begin.  

Across the week, we have at least 36 connections planned with libraries and classrooms in Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Vermont, Maryland, Indiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas, Maine, and Germany!

We'll also connect with authors like Tanya Lee Stone, Barbara O'Connor, Laurel Snyder, Anne Marie Pace, Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, and Jesse Klausmeier!

Each session will be a bit different, but they will have some common elements too.

  • We'll greet one another and tell them where we are located.

  • We'll read aloud across the miles. Sometimes this will be students reading to students. Other times, the adults might take turns reading pages from the same book or select characters to portray. Authors will read from their own books or favorite books and take time to allow kids to ask questions about their writing.

  • To close, students will have a chance to make some connections between the 2 locations. Students often like to find out what the weather is like or what kids like to do for fun in different states. These closing moments build connections between us as a human race.

  • In some cases, we will collaborate with classes on some type of project. For example, we might create a Padlet or a Flipgrid to share written and video responses to the books we read.

  • We also take time to look at a Google map and chart the distance between the two connecting schools. It’s really fun when there’s more than one school or author on the Skype call and you can connect multiple dots on a map to see how our voices are uniting across the miles.

I think it’s important to know that there’s no “right” way to plan for World Read Aloud Day. Whatever you decide to do will be the right plan for your school and your students. Whatever you do, your life will be richly rewarded with the power of spoken word and voices connecting together across the miles to lift up our right to read.

In the words of Kate DiCamillo, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, “Stories Connect Us”. I can’t wait to connect students around the world through story.

To follow along with our WRAD celebrations, feel free to follow me on twitter @plemmonsa and visit my library blog barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com. I look forward to a day (or week) filled with reading connections. Happy reading!

--Andy Plemmons, Library Media Specialist at David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, Georgia

Help Spread the World Read Aloud Day Movement

Here at LitWorld we are getting ready to celebrate our 5th annual World Read Aloud Day on March 5, 2014. In less than two months, communities all over the world will come together to share stories with one another.

The act of reading aloud is simple, joyful and fun, but it is also a powerful way to build literacy skills. More importantly, reading aloud to someone (or to a group of people) helps cultivate a lifelong love of reading. For some this will be the first time that they have felt included in a community of readers and writers, and the first time that they realize that reading feels good and the right to read and to learn from stories belongs to them. 

Last year over one million people celebrated World Read Aloud Day and we plan to make this year's celebration even bigger! We have registered participants in almost 300 cities and we need your help to spread the word about World Read Aloud Day. Below is a snapshot of our WRAD map (click the image to see the full map in Google Maps). If you don't see your city on the map, or if you have friends or family in cities with no WRAD marker reach out to them to invite them into our global reading club. We need all voices to rally together to spread the power of story.

All it takes is three simple steps: 

1. Register your participation in the WRAD movement.

2. Download our free activity kits and spread the word on social media (see sample posts here).

3. Read aloud on March 5th!