I got an email this morning from Litworld.org, announcing World Read Aloud Day 2013. Then, Colby put up a post sharing how excited he is about WRAD this year. I didn’t have this blog last year, so I’ve never really reflected, in writing, on my WRAD experience. I felt a sudden need to write a post of my own, as I look ahead to March 6, and look back at last year’s WRAD activities.
Last year, I participated in World Read Aloud Day for the first time. It was, without question, my favorite day of the year. Actually, it might have been my favorite day teaching in my ten years in the classroom. By the end of the day I was exhausted, but exhilarated as well.
We scheduled read aloud time with four other classes: A kindergarten, two first grades, and a fourth grade. We read to them, and the only expectation was that they would also read to us. On Skype, we heard from Sarah Prineas and Alan Silberberg, and read with a fifth grade class in California. And, of course, I read aloud to my students, as I do every day.
All these things were fun, and amazing, and valuable experiences, but they weren’t the highlight of the day. Not even close.
As a class, we decided that we would donate each of the books we read to our primary school library. To raise money to purchase the books, we had a little mini-readathon fundraiser in February. I figured we would need about $50 for our four books. We raised $250! Holy moly! What to do with the extra?
A few students mentioned a party, or books for our room. Those sounded fun. But then we thought back to what WRAD is all about: Promoting global literacy. After a bit of searching around, we came to a decision. We would make a donation to the Whatcom Literacy Council, promoting literacy in our own community.
It was amazing how my students took over the project, took ownership of what they were doing, saw the value in it, and embraced it. Just having a day of reading is fun. Just spreading reading love to other students is wonderful. But leaving a positive impact across our community was amazing and unforgettable.
I kind of wonder if my WRAD experience may have peaked in the first year. Everything felt so organic and spontaneous–I feel like things might be too teacher-driven if I “make” my class do the same thing. Of course, if I tell them all about it, I’m sure they would want to do the same. I just hope we can do something similar this year, and that the students can make it their own. Some of my current students were read to by last year’s class. I want them all to feel the joy of reading, sharing, and giving.
Please consider participating in World Read Aloud Day on March 6. You don’t have to go crazy, like I did (do). It is enough just taking the time to share the power of words with another human being. You won’t regret it, and you’ll change lives.