I started my day off this morning by checking out a stack of books to take across the street to Ale’s daycare. Today, after all, is World Read Aloud Day! I wanted my little girl to get books read to her all day long.
While at school, I began researching reading aloud online. I wanted to find this statistic that I heard from Pam Allyn, Director and Founder of Lit Life, while at a conference last year. She mentioned that students who are read to three times a day are one full year ahead of other students–regardless of socioeconomic status! Alas, I didn’t find that statistic today, but what I did find was equally fascinating.
The benefits of reading aloud are countless! There is, of course, the overwhelmingly popular fun factor. Being read to is fun! And kids who get that are more likely to enjoy reading themselves! Even from birth reading to children has benefits: babies learn to associate reading with love. They hear language structure and new vocabulary when they listen to books. The vocabulary that comes from a picture book is often different than what someone might speak each day. Even young adults love to be read to–and their listening comprehension is beyond that of their independent ability. It isn’t until 8th grade that those two levels become balanced; therefore, the sophisticated language that children listen to causes them to think critically. This, in turn, develops cognitive ability– not to mention, the emotional side of a reader. Whew! If that doesn’t make you want to pick up a book, I don’t know what will!
After a full day at school, I finally was able to read to my own precious punkin before turning in for the night. I picked this up for her special last weekend in Texas. I actually was looking for a character and a well-known title–I was so glad we went this route! The bear is just the perfect to hide behind a pillow until his big reveal!
And this was the perfect ending to a perfect day of celebrating reading aloud… Make someone’s day by reading aloud today. Let’s make everyday a read aloud day!
My heart is breaking. Seriously. I take so much for granted–like this wonderful world of literacy! Reading has been an escape for me since I was a little girl. Writing became my therapy a couple years ago when I felt like the world was crumbling around me.
And now? Literacy is my future! It’s what my job is based on, and I’ve already signed a contract as a literacy coach for the next two years. You could say that I can support my family because I learned to read. That’s the truth.
But still, my heart is breaking.
My custodian just asked me sheepishly, “Miss, what does this say in English. I don’t understand.” He was holding a button that I had made proclaiming March 5th World Read Aloud Day. I didn’t think anything of it, and I explained in broken Spanish the idea behind World Read Aloud Day. It’s a day where you read with a loud voice (the actual translation). Suddenly, a look of near panic crosses his face. “Us too?” he asked? I explained that no, we wouldn’t have everyone reading, but that some schools do celebrate like that. “But, it’s because I can’t read. I had to quit school when I was eleven,” he continued, “when my father died.”
I quickly assured him that I understood how that could happen. My husband too worked his whole childhood and missed out on a lot of school. I can help, I explained. It will be hard. But I know I can help him learn to read.
Wow. I think back to the notes that I’ve written, the cards that we’ve signed, and the text that is literally dripping from my classroom walls. Poems decorate my door, banners fly in the hallway with each writing celebration, and this sweet man who takes care of us everyday just told me his secret.
I know that it is a secret. That expression on his face? I know that expression. I see it daily on the faces of the boys and girls who struggle with reading–Who know that they are struggling.
There are a lot of things I can’t do in this world. But teach someone to read? That’s something I can do. And it all starts with reading aloud. Reading with a loud voice. Be loud. Be proud. Read someone a book tomorrow–even if that someone is just yourself.