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 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