The ritual of reading out loud is a special one for both children and parents. As mother to two boys, my memories of snuggling with them on the couch reading stories before bed are precious. Going from being narrator to my insistent audience (“Again! Again! But make the villain sound more evil”), to helping them with the harder words, to, finally, being the insistent audience myself, so glad to hear them use their own voices to be the villains and heroes, is a wonderful experience.
It is a journey so many parents and teachers enjoy – watching young people go from audience to performers, from receivers to creators. Educators know better than anyone that an early love of reading can be a profound determinant in later education. The science of reading’s effect on our mental faculties is clear; but, so too, is it clear that there is a deeper emotional response to the sharing of stories. It is a truly human act.
Which is why I’m pleased to announce that today, we are joining LitWorld, an international non-profit organization advocating for literacy, to celebrate World Read Aloud Day. Skype in the classroom has gathered a global community of guest authors who will connect with students and teachers through a simple video call to share that infectious and evocative love of reading.
Kate DiCamillo of “Flora & Ulysses,” C. Alexander London of “An Accidental Adventure” series, Ridley Pearson of “Peter and the Starcatchers” and Melissa Guion of “Baby Penguins Everywhere!” are just a few of the notable authors whom teachers will bring into their classrooms virtually. While last year LitWorld reached 65 countries and more than a million participants, we believe there is room to grow. Through the empowering technology of Skype, we want that basic act of reading aloud to get even more powerful – even when narrator and audience aren’t sharing a classroom.
Importantly, students meeting our Skype guest authors will not just sit and listen to a story; they will have a chance to learn about the writing process and ask questions about the characters in the stories. This is important, because our community of teachers tell us when students engage with guests and experts it inspires them in ways that have a dramatic impact on the positive outcome of their lessons. Check out the enthusiastic tweets from last year as teachers and authors alike share their excitement to read aloud to one another.
The details for participation are simple. You can find authors and guest speakers on a variety of topics on the Skype in the classroom website, along with profiles of teachers like Mr. Hankins who has been participating in World Read Aloud Day since 2009. If you are a teacher and not a member of Skype in the classroom, it’s easy to sign up for free at education.skype.com to access not only these resources, but a host of others – not just today, but every school day.
I hope you’ll join us in celebrating the joy of reading and the importance of literacy by picking up a book and reading to a child. And if they can’t be next to you as you make your best villain voice, I hope you’ll let Skype enable you to share with children and classrooms around the world.
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