It is no secret that I LOVE to read aloud. If you’ve known me for more than five minutes, chances are I’ve read to you. Luckily for me, my work as a literacy professor offers me opportunities to read to future and current teachers, as well as to parents and children on occasion.
On February 5, 2020, World Read Aloud Day celebrated its tenth anniversary. This annual celebration was started by nonprofit organization Lit World. According to their website, World Read Aloud Day is “an opportunity for people all around the globe to celebrate the joy of reading aloud, and advocate for literacy as a fundamental human right that belongs to everyone.” Participants organize read alouds at local libraries, schools, book stores, and other gathering places in the community.
As I tried to decide between reading my favorite read aloud book Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield, trying out new gem I Am Enough by Grace Byers, or really stepping out of my comfort zone to read aloud in Spanish with the bilingual Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina by Monica Brown, I thought about why I was doing this. Why do I spend so much time reading aloud and encouraging parents, teachers, and other humans to do the same? Why do I enjoy it so much and how does it benefit the listeners?
Well, I’m glad you asked! (Oh…did I ask? Either way, it’s a great question. Let’s not split hairs.) Here are five reasons we should all be participating in read alouds.
1. Sharing Stories is Powerful
It’s no secret that there are some stories we hear a lot, while others are pretty rare. Therefore, when we participate in read alouds, we get to be a part of expanding the stories that are heard. We empower people to share their loves, hurts, passions, fears, and dreams. We get the unique opportunity to step into other lives for a few precious moments and recognize the truth and fullness of others. Perhaps most importantly, we build empathy as we inhabit these lives. Further, we build confidence and self-awareness as we enjoy stories that reflect our own lives.
2. Literacy is Powerful
Access to literacy is access to power. On their website, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes that “literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and contributes to improve livelihoods.” They continue by saying it is “also a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities.” Reading aloud makes literacy accessible and…
3. Read Alouds Improve Literacy Skills
Reading aloud to young children helps them develop their understanding of language and how print matches speech, as well as to understand story structure and character development. As we grow older, listening to read alouds improves our vocabulary and word usage. Further, reading aloud improves the reader’s fluency and communication skills. Being read to gives us access to language and ideas that may be above our ability to comprehend through independent reading.
4. Engaging in Read Alouds Builds Community
When we participate in read alouds, we naturally talk to each other about the books. We share connections and engage in discussions. We get excited, scared, sad, and joyful. Hence, sharing these emotions, ideas, and knowledge draws us closer together.
5. It’s Fun
Well, duh. Above all, the community-building, empowering, joy-sharing, skill-building magic of read alouds is FUN. Because we’re doing voices and movements while laughing and crying together, it is FUN! If there’s one thing the world needs more of right now, it’s fun!