Explore books on Read Aloud Day
On Wednesday Feb. 2, raise your voice and join readers in more than 170 countries in celebration of the 13th World Read Aloud Day. Created by LitWorld, the global non-profit advocating for the power of sharing stories, and sponsored by Scholastic, the day calls to attention the power and importance of reading aloud.
On this day, people can can access the full day of live virtual read-alouds on the Storyvoice app and hear tales from Jonathan Fenske, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and more.
“It is truly an honor to see just how huge the response to World Read Aloud Day has become since being founded by LitWorld in 2010,” said Lisa Meadowcroft, Executive Director of LitWorld. “We are so thankful to Scholastic, our partners, our WRADvocates, and readers everywhere for being a part of this global celebration and for supporting our work year-round as we bring the joy of stories to communities everywhere.”
Reading together is a special time
My husband and I have been reading to our two kids since they were born, 9 and 13 years ago. Sometimes we’ll all pile in “the big bed” together and read a chapter book, or we’ll divide and conquer and snuggle up close with one kid each. Whether we’re at home, staying at the grandparent’s, or in a tent, reading together has become a bedtime tradition and a way to stay connected after busy days.
Besides being a special time to enjoy together, reading aloud has been proven to improve children’s reading, writing, vocabulary, and communication skills. Best of all, it can open up a whole new world of imagination and instill a lifelong love of reading.
Some of the books I look forward to reading aloud (again and again) include The Little House written in 1942 by Virginia Lee Burton, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, and R. J. Palacio’s beautiful novel Wonder, which my older son and I have read together three times (so far).
My husband counts A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck as one of the best he’s read to the kids. “This book is a series of shorter stories sized for easy consumption, and are centered around the same characters who are fun to bring to life,” he explains. Two books that we’ll have to start over because neither my husband or I could read through all of the tears are the classics Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White and The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat. Such beautiful stories, but oh the tears!
Favourites to read aloud
To expand our library and get inspiration for our next book selection, I reached out to some storytime experts — childcare educators, teachers, parents, and of course, my mom — for some of their favourite books to read aloud. Here are their suggestions:
“We live a bit of a distance from our grandchildren so when they were younger and would come to visit it was a very special treat to be able to read to them. I love books and thankfully that particular gene seems to have passed on to my grandsons – they all love to read!” says Susan Latreille (my mom). “One of the books that I remember having great fun sharing with the boys is Robert Munsch’s Smelly Socks. It has great illustrations by Michael Martchenko that are fun to explore and is typical of many of Munsch’s books in that it is rather silly and absolutely perfect for reading aloud. But the best part is that it is kind of GROSS in a very fun way.”
“One of my favourite books to read aloud is The book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Listening to the giggles as I read is so heartwarming and spirit-lifting, and at 9 years old my son still requests it and still laughs,” says Shannon Sullivan, mom of two. “We have also read the entire Harry Potter series aloud, and although these are weeks or months-long projects, the stories are captivating and are such smooth reads that it is enjoyable for the reader and the listener.”
Eric Paradis, parent to a 9- and 13-year-old, also enjoys The Book with No Pictures. “It truly has no pictures, and it is awesome at creating giggles and laughs, especially when you vary your voice based on what is being read. I have NEVER had kids laugh so much as with this book.” For really little ones, Paradis has always loved reading Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton. “I love the rhyming, and the kids love to interact with the animal sounds. That book will be stuck in my head forever.”
Cory Williams has been an early childhood educator for the past 18 years and is another fan of (you guessed it) The Book with No Pictures. “It’s awesome on so many levels, and my daycare kids love my sound effects,” she says. Some other favourites of Williams’ include Stuck by Oliver Jeffers and The Doll People by Ann Martin and Laura Goodwin, “I read this to my two daughters when they were 5 and 7. The story ignites the imagination when a family of china dolls come to life when the humans are not watching,” she continues. But Williams’ all time favourite of this year is What do you do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamada. “With this story you learn to deal with and adapt to a problem, and how problems can challenge and reward us, teach us that we are strong, brave, and we can make it through.”
Lea Capuano has a variety of favourites that she reads aloud to her 8-year-old. “I love the cadence of Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss, and The Gruffalo where I can do my voices and get my acting chops on!” she says. Reading Harold and the Purple Crayon together brings back fond memories for Capuano. “When I was a girl, one of my favorite afterschool shows was Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings. I was fascinated with Simon’s artistic flair, and then the magic of having his drawings come to life. Fast forward around 35 years and reading to my own child; we inherited a copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon and it was Simon mania revisited.”
Andrea Stanford cites a book from her youth as a great one to read aloud. “Smoke and Fluff is a story about two naughty kittens told in verse. I like to challenge myself to get through it with the right cadence,” says Stanford. “And the Harry Potter series where I do every voice. Hagrid’s is the hardest”
Retired elementary school Adrienne Sauriol spent many years reading to her young students and would start off each year with Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Sauriol is also a big fan of Robert Munsch and read almost all of his books in French to the kids. “L’habit de neige and Le dodo de Mortimer were one the kids favorites.”
Read a story to every child at bedtime every night. Let there be half an hour of storytime at the end of school in primary schools up and down the country. But make this the half hour they all long for, that they don’t want to be over. All that matters at that early age is that they learn to love it, that they want to listen to more stories, read them, tell them, write them, act them out, sing them, dance them.
– Michael Morpurgo, author, poet, and playwriter best known best for children’s novels such as War Horse. Delivered at his The power of stories lecture, September 21st, 2016.
To access resources from LitWorld including activity guides, book lists, and printable bookmarks, visit: litworld.org/worldreadaloudday
To find more stories to enjoy with kids, visit the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Storyline Online, a free children’s literacy resource where you’ll find a wide variety of books read by professional actors. Listen here: storylineonline.net/library