By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
24 Hours of Read-Aloud Activities on February 1As far back as its 2019 Kids and Family Reading Report, research from Scholastic began surfacing the importance of reading aloud to young people as a means of instilling the “habit of reading” into new generations.
“In that iteration of the report,” we wrote in our 2020 coverage of World Read Aloud Day from Scholastic and its nonprofit partner LitWorld, “the publisher went all in on the importance of reading aloud to children, positioning the tradition of parents and other guardians reading to children well into their teens as a fundamentally important element of a youngster’s development and as the best chance to produce adult readers ahead (italics ours).”
One of the key reasons this is an important point is being explored today (January 26) as the Scuola per Librai Umberto e Elisabetta Mauri is seated here at the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice as part of its 40th edition. In a special two-hour session with Michael Busch of Germany’s Thalia and James Daunt of the United Kingdom’s Waterstones and the United States’ Barnes & Noble, a key concept is the generational change being observed in many international markets’ readership demographics—when “customer centricity” means welcoming a younger sector of book buyers.
Perhaps sensing this generational change in the world marketplace, Scholastic’s 2023 World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) program on February 1 has a new format that leverages the importance of being read to in a person’s development as a reader.
With participation planned in 173 nations, this 14th annual program this time will feature children’s books authors reading aloud and sharing messages from 13 nations through Storyvoice, a digital app through which children, classrooms, and families read and interact live with Scholastic authors.
Calling the 24-hour event a “WRAD-a-thon,” Scholastic and LitWorld have organized the program to open with a live read-aloud by the Australian author Matt Cosgrove from Alpaca Picnic Panic on February 1 at 11 a.m. Sydney time (1 p.m. GMT January 31).
Events then are to follow from India, Kenya, South Africa, Mexico, Canada, the United States, and Colombia.
Some highlights expected:
- Owl Diaries No. 1: Eva’s Treetop Festival, with the author Rebecca Eliott (a World Read Aloud Day “ambassador”)
- A Spanish-language reading by the bilingual educator Barby Garibaldi
- Brian Selznick reading from his forthcoming book, Big Tree
- Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants, Dog Man) with what’s described as a recorded surprise
DiMichele: ‘Boost Intelligence and Literacy Skills’
LitWorld was founded in 2007 by Pam Allyn, the author and social-impact education strategist formerly with Scholastic who also has created literacy education organization LitLife, learning platform Dewey, and LitWorld.
In a statement about the event’s plans, LitWorld executive director Caitlin Cassaro says, “More than a one-day literary celebration, World Read Aloud Day has morphed into a beautiful worldwide movement, touched and transformed by every child, community, and country that takes part and comes together for this special day.
“LitWorld is honored to have sparked this movement in 2010, and now gets to join in and witness the many diverse stories that are shared on this day. We’re incredibly thankful to our WRAD sponsors and partners for their valuable participation.”
And at Scholastic, Billy DiMichele, senior vice president for creative development and corporate social responsibility, says, “Research continues to quantify the power of reading aloud, from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report which strikingly shows the positive family moments it creates, to new, preliminary findings from the University of Trento in Italy.”
Those findings show, he says, “that reading to elementary and middle school students can boost intelligence and literacy skills, including vocabulary and comprehension.
“Whether you’re gathering in-person in a classroom, in your living room, or at a local library, or you’re connecting digitally, we’ve made sure you have the resources and the programming available to you to create a truly memorable day.”
There’s a mini-site set up for those interested in the World Read Aloud Day events on February 1. The elements available on that page include a downloadable schedule (PDF) with instructions, a link to the Storyvoice app, a digital kit that can be emailed to you with discussion guides, and a 30-book list of World Read Aloud Day books selected from Scholastic’s list.
See also: The 40th Mauri School in Venice: ‘Interpreting Change’
More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s books is here, more on Scholastic is here, more on LitWorld and World Read Aloud Day is here, and more on literacy charities is here.