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Reading Aloud Connects Us All

By Pam Allyn
 | Feb 13, 2017

shutterstock_221294557_x300The act of reading is, in some ways, the most invisible of arts. We can’t see others’ minds at work; their engagement with words can be mysterious to the outside eye. But when we read aloud to one another, we bring the joy and connection of reading to the surface; we illuminate its power.

Reading aloud is my favorite way to create community and joy. A profound, magical connection forms between reader, text, and listener. Through the books we choose and the people we read with, we deepen relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime.

In 2007, my colleagues and I created World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) through LitWorld in response to one little boy in a classroom who yearned for more time for his teacher to read aloud. This year WRAD falls on February 16.

WRAD is a soaring global, grassroots movement that shares the power of words and stories and has created a connected community of caring people who come together as a positive force for love and learning and celebrate something beautiful and good.

I had the honor of participating in a podcast (which will go live on WRAD) with our partner Scholastic on the profound resonance of the read-aloud—and the connections that are made—along with actor, comedian, and author Nick Cannon; renowned author and editor Andrea Pinkney; and esteemed researcher, author, professor, and literacy expert Ernest Morrell. Hear Scholastic’s full podcast on February 16, including an excerpt from Cannon’s new book of poetry, Neon Aliens Ate My Homework: And Other Poems.

I loved listening to Cannon talk about his favorite memories of reading growing up and how the sound of language changed him—how authors such as Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss “had a cadence or a rhyme.” He said he loved to share, read, and perform those words aloud. Now, as a father, he passes along the power of the read-aloud to his children, which included The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, a book that celebrated the tender moments of a small child experiencing the joy of a winter day.

Pinkney read aloud to us from her new book, A Poem for Peter, about the author of The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats. I love how the link between Nick and Andrea was completely coincidental: Nick’s revering this classics book and Andrea’s writing the story of Peter, the boy in the book. Each one’s “lineage” of reading intersected in that moment of honoring the power of children’s books to change lives.

Ernest and I talked about the formative impact reading aloud has had on our own lives and with our families, and Ernest pointed out that the research shows how important the read aloud is to the learning life of every child.

I invite you to make your own connections to favorite books, both old and new, on this World Read Aloud Day. Bring your professional community together for dinner and read to each other. Read poems, jokes, news stories, magical fiction, and love stories. Find a a community center that really needs the care that the read-aloud brings and take time to share that on this day.

Join WRAD for 24 joy-filled hours! Visit us at litworld.org/wrad to find resources and on our Facebook page to see (and post!) photos from all over the world in the days and weeks that follow. Remember to use the tag #WRAD17 to share your experiences with everyone!

pamallynheadshotPam Allyn is the founding director of LitWorld, a global literacy initiative serving children across the United States and in more than 60 countries, and LitLife, a cutting-edge consulting group working with schools to enrich best practice teaching methods and building curriculum for reading and writing.


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