February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

An Estimated Million—from Italy to North Carolina—Participate in World Read Aloud Day


Students at Georgia’s David C. Barrow Elementary School skype with a classroom at the Ducketts Lane Elementary School in Maryland on World Read Aloud Day. / Rocco Staino

Forty-six countries joined in World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) this year on March 5, with an estimated million-plus individual participants. The brainchild of Pam Allyn, founder of the global literacy organization LitWorld, WRAD was created to encourage the global celebration of reading aloud.

Among those celebrating was New York City Police commissioner William J. Bratton, who got involved by reading Peggy Rathmann’s Caldecott Medal-winning book Officer Buckle and Gloria (Putnam, 1995) aloud at the Jefferson Market Library branch of the New York Public Library.

Bratton, himself a grandfather of two, explained to reporters that he and his wife like to read aloud, long distance, to their two young grandsons, who live in Los Angeles, using Face Time. Typically, the Brattons purchase two books of the same title and send one to their grandsons so they can read along together. While the boys’ favorite book character is currently Thomas the Tank Engine from the series of the same name, the commissioner is looking forward to sharing titles by Dr. Seuss in the near future.

“It is important for boys to see men as readers,” said Allyn, who was pleased to see Bratton participating this year.

Bratton, who described himself as an “avid reader,” told his assembled audience about his own childhood visits to the Boston Public Library where he discovered the picture book Your Police (Garden City, 1956) by George Zaffo. He was joined at the Jefferson library by the author Jacqueline Woodson, who read from her book This is Rope (Penguin, 2013).

Author Kate DiCamillo, the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, commemorated WRAD by conducting a multi-school Skype event with eight schools across the country—and Mexico. Meanwhile, author Laurel Snyder skyped with 11 schools and read from a title in her upcoming book series “Charlie and Mouse” (Chronicle, not yet published).

Librarians also made good use of Skype to connect distant classrooms on WRAD. Andy Plemmons, a library media specialist at the David C. Barrow Elementary School in Georgia and Matthew Winner, a teacher librarian at the Ducketts Lane Elementary School in Maryland, shared The Story of Fish and Snail (Viking, 2013) by Deborah Freedman with their respective classrooms using Skype.

Shannon McClintock Miller, a district librarian at the Van Meter Community School in Iowa, was one of a group of school librarians who extended WRAD to a multi-day event. During her week-long celebration, she arranged Skype-visits with 15 authors, including Erica S. Perl, Robert Forbes, Tom Angleberger, and Drew Daywalt.

Across the waters, Margaret Russo, a librarian at the Sigonella Elementary School in Italy, connected with librarian Kathryn Cole of the Northside Elementary School in North Carolina, for a student reading exchange.

Back in New York City, students from PS 46 and PS 196 went on a WRAD-themed field trip to the Scholastic Publishing headquarters, where they were treated to a read-aloud session by master of gore R.L. Stine. The author’s recitation from his book Creature Teacher: the Final Exam (Scholastic, 2014) had had his audience squirming in their seats.


Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.