Read Aloud. Change the World – Thursday 1 February is World Read Aloud Day

Thursday 1 February is World Read Aloud Day, because:

We think everyone in the world should get to read and write. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people all around the globe read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people.

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

When I was in primary school, “Library Day” was one of my favorite days. Every second Friday, the book-bus pulled up outside our school and we  chose a book each. Later that day, we would visit my grandmother and her sister. One of them would gather up the five of us and read our books to us. I loved it, especially if a hard book had been chosen and it had to be read to us. Even when we were old enough to read the library books by ourselves, being read to was enjoyed by all.  The Just so stories and The Arabian nights were popular reads in my grandmother’s house and they eventually became a bit shabby. Reading aloud continued until our grandmother and our elderly aunt could no longer see well enough to read. Then it became our turn to read to them.

When was the last time you read aloud? Was it when your child was little? Was it before they stated to read? Have read to an older child or an adult?

I have read to an older child and we enjoyed it. We were able to share stories and talk about the themes and issues raised by the authors. We were able to share stories that the child didn’t have the literary skills to read alone.  It was a time to chat, share and discuss anything and everything. The result was, the child was exposed to stories, words and ideas that they would not have had exposure to if they had just read the stories that everyone was reading.

I always thought that reading aloud was a good idea. According to Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, reading aloud to a child, puts them almost a year ahead of children who do not receive daily reading alouds. Reading aloud obviously improves literacy and everyone in the world should get to read and write. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people all around the globe read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people. Here’s why that’s important:

According to UNESCO, 258 million adults – two thirds of them women – lack basic literacy skills. Among the youth population, female literacy rates have risen quickly, but still three fifths of the illiterate are women. A child who is born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a woman who is illiterate. A literate, educated girl is less likely to acquire AIDS, have a higher income and will have a smaller healthier family than her literate counterpart.

So, borrow some books.
Find a reading buddy.
Visit litworld.org and get ready to read out aloud.

Read alouds

 

No words for my favourite read-aloud

The Chicken ThiefRead-aloud books – there’s so many favourites out there we’ve made this great list of read-alouds through the ages – there’s bound to be one of your favourites on it.

But my favourite read-aloud, and probably my vote for the book of the year, is one that has no words. Not a single piece of description. No dialogue, no tired rhymes from the thesaurus, no names, no cutesy chit chat.

It’s no easy choice – at the end of the day when you’re tired and you’re trying to get a ratty three-year-old to bed, the challenge of making up the narration and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of The Chicken Thief is sometimes the last thing you want to take on. The plot? A fox steals a chicken – her chicken partner and assorted friends chase them high and low for several nights, crossing mountains and oceans – but then the chicken ditches the lot of them for the fox!

And yet it’s a story choice we never regret. We talk about the action, the scenery, the characters, the drama, what might happen next – and every time we get a different, fun, entertaining version.

It’s magic that the illustrations capture so much, but what I really like is that it puts the reader in charge of the story somehow – deciding what to highlight, exaggerate or omit;  choosing sound effects, what names the characters might have and so on.

Two other quick votes: The Snagglegrollop and Gordon’s Got a Snookie – try them, and tell us your favourite read-aloud – is it on our list?

My new local Hero

Over the weekend I had a book I couldn’t put down, and that’s exactly what you need in a wet weekend, right? Unexpectedly, as I’m not usually a fantasy reader, I found myself in the fascinating world of an invisible flying lonely boy and was captivated. The curiously named children’s novel The Loblolly Boy is by local author James Norcliffe who is fast becoming one of my favourites. The story is timeless and grounded in the very real fears and emotions of children, and I couldn’t agree more with Margaret Mahy’s endorsement of the book as “a new classic”. I would recommend reading it aloud to the 9+ age group.

Even more impressive is the fact that three years ago I was in admiration of an altogether different kind of work by Norcliffe, a quite different world and much darker altogether, tightly written and intriguing The Assassin of Gleam, which won the won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for the best New Zealand fantasy novel of 2006. I am eagerly awaiting the next in this series.