"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, February 3, 2012

Making the connection: books, students and World Read Aloud Day

I introduced World Read Aloud Day to my fourth graders yesterday.  I absolutely believe in and support the mission of this initiative:

"Take Action for Global Literacy,
Celebrate the Power of Words,
Change the World"

On March 7, 2012, educators, children, parents and a host of literature loving  people will participate in LitWorld's World Read Aloud Day (WRAD).  LitWorld is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to grow and support literacy leaders and literacy programs.

I talked with my students about World Read Aloud Day and shared some of the statistics regarding literacy.  According to the LitWorld site, worldwide at least 793 million people remain illiterate. In December, Stephen Krashen spoke to the Chicago Teachers Union and delivered some thoughts on children living in poverty, two of which are below:

"Study shows that in affluent areas children have access to over 200 books while children in poverty have access to less than 2 books at home. School is not levelling the playing field."

"We must protect children against the affects of poverty.  This means three things: food (free and reduce meals). School nurses (medical care). Books and libraries (literacy)"
With this information in mind, we started to discuss how we, as a school community, might participate in WRAD.  Having recently participated in a webinar with Angela Maiers, I was inspired to explore ways to make this learning experience a passion driven one for my students.  I explained that they would be the ones to design our school community's efforts and that they would be our ambassadors for this initiative. I have given them a week to come up with ideas and designs.

To demonstrate the power of literacy and the gift of reading, I read from one of my favorite biographies, Mary on Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells.

Mary on Horseback cover shot

Mary on Horseback is the story of Mary Breckinridge, the founder of the Frontier Nursing Service.

Mary Breckinridge

This slim volume packs a punch.  Readers are invited into the lives of three people, whose very existence is changed by Mary Breckinridge.  With honesty and grace, Wells gently introduces the reader to life in Appalachia in the 1920's.  The ensuing three stories then bring this time and this place to life. 

For this project, I am pairing it with That Book Woman by Heather Henson, the story of the packhorse librarians.

That Book Woman cover shot
The packhorse librarians was a Works Progress Administration program aimed at bringing books to the families of Appalachia.  You can see photographs of the librarians on this site from the New Deal Network.

A packhorse librarian delivering books
We finished our time together by discussing how much the students had been exposed to and learned in such a short period of time and based upon just one reading experience.  I hope this idea resonates with them.   

Check in next week when we share our ideas for WRAD.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    Thank you so much for posting about World Read Aloud Day! We love your work and we were hoping to invite you to our official circle of bloggers. Please email me at rubyveridiano@litworld.org so we can coordinate. Thanks again!