Ambassadors, attorneys and authors were all part of yesterday's (March 7th) the third annual World Read Aloud Day (WRAD). The event that was the brainchild of LitWorld, a nonprofit literacy organization encourages the power of words in creating a community. Events celebrating the day occurred worldwide from India to Guatemala with the keynote activities being based at the Books of Wonder Bookstore in New York City. It was there that Katherine Paterson and Walter Dean Myers, the Ambassadors for Young People's Literature past and present, came to read to children from a dozen schools from around the city. Readings took place around the store and atop of a double-decker tour bus parked outside. "It terrific to watch kids respond to print on paper," said Peter Glassman, the store's owner and a traditional book advocate. "If we get one in ten of these kids to become avid readers then this event is worth it."
Actor and reading advocate LeVar Burton took to Google+ for a live-streamed Hangout On Air to celebrate WRAD, where he told of a new app for Reading Rainbow, the iconic television-reading program. Elsewhere Newbery Award-winning author Sharon Creech visited Cedar Grove Middle School in Supply, NC, where the Basketball Poets read poetry to the author in honor of WRAD. The program was the idea of basketball coach Marty Mentzer, who has her players read and write poetry as well as play the game.
In New York City, attorneys from the law firm Holland and Knight took time out their busy day to visit PS 19 in Manhattan to read to students in honor of WRAD. This was part of a 12-year partnership that the firm has with the school.
Elsewhere in the world, in Chennai, India, Anitha Jebaraj, a reading advocate, led a program at the Violet School where students shared stories together, including The Yakety Yak. And in Guatemala, Free Balance, a Canadian software company, had their associates visit schools in Guatemala City to read to children.
Crystal Brunelle, library media specialist at Northern Hills Elementary School in Onalaska, Wisconsin, brought author Alan Silberberg to her fifth grade students via Skype. He read from his book Milo's Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze (Aladdin, 2010). Using technology, high school students in New Canaan, CT, have planned for the day with fellow students in Van Meter, IA, and Springfield Township, PA. The students, along with their teacher librarians, Michelle Luhtala (CT), Shannon Miller (IA) and Joyce Valenza (PA), worked together via Skype meetings where they planned and shared ideas. As a result of the collaboration, debut author Kim Purcell visited the Van Mete students and discussed and read from her book, Trafficked (Viking, 2012), a story of a young Moldavian girl who finds herself part of the modern-day slave trade. The technology even enabled Rebecca Miller, School Library Journal's editor-in-chief, to read Mo Willems' Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (Hyperion, 2005) to first grade students and for librarians Travis Jonkers and John Schumacher to bring their Minnesota and Illinois students from together so that they could read aloud to each other.
At the close of World Read Aloud Day, Pam Allyn, LitWorld Executive Director and founder of World Read Aloud Day, said that plans are currently underway for WRAD 2013.