It is read aloud time in a classroom full of first grade students in New York City, and the kids cannot help but giggle hysterically at what they are hearing. At the front of the room, a woman is reading The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak, practically jumping off of her seat with every silly sound. Laughter fills the room until the very last page, and the reader says goodbye to the kids, waving to them from her office in Philadelphia. The screens go blank as the Skype video call ends, and the teacher turns to the class to continue with their special World Read Aloud Day lesson. From 100 miles apart, the magic of the book is just as real, and the kids go home that day to tell everyone about their best read aloud yet.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released updated guidelines for how our children should interact with digital media. A deep look reveals that the type of screen time they receive is what really matters. While the academy agreed that digital media should not replace activities such as social interaction, physical activity and sleep, it can be beneficial to young people from toddlers to teenagers when it is used effectively.
The key is to integrate technology with in-person interaction so that digital media adds value to our life and relationships, rather than becoming the center of them. At LitWorld, we believe one of the most powerful ways to build connection with each other is to read aloud together. That’s why we created World Read Aloud Day. We believe the read aloud is a small act with a big impact; it has the power to bring us together and transform the lives of children everywhere. Classrooms, families and communities in hundreds of cities unite to celebrate the power of words, and share some of their favorite stories.
We embrace virtual World Read Aloud Day celebrations through partnerships with authors and organizations who share our belief that distance should never get in the way of a good read aloud. With Skype, classrooms can connect to authors hundreds of miles away, experiencing the same funny voices and amusing facial expressions that make every book come to life. Through the use of digital media, more people than ever before have been able to join the World Read Aloud Day movement.
Digital media can help our kids thrive in the 21st century. As long as adults are serving as role models for healthy use, children can make the most of technology by learning, connecting, and expressing their creativity. The read aloud is the perfect way to add value to the digital experiences our kids have on a daily basis.
Join the World Read Aloud Day movement this February 16th and in the days and weeks that follow. Bring the magic of the read aloud to a screen near you and feel the connection that reading together creates, no matter the distance. You can find out more about how to celebrate at the Microsoft Educator Community and LitWorld.
Also, join Skype in the Classroom’s literacy campaign and celebrate reading and writing with your classroom by inviting an author to talk to your students over Skype, or participate in one of the fun literacy activities. There are also lots of children’s book authors who offer Skype lessons from literacy partners such as Scholastic, Penguin Books, Candlewick, Arbordale, and more. Many authors are available year-round.
Parents: Why not ask your school to get involved with Skype in the Classroom so your kids can experience the world live from their classrooms?