by Chris Goff
In 1961, in a downstairs room in Evergreen, Colorado, a dad perched on the side of a bunk bed reading Pinocchio to a six year-old little girl. Originally a collection of stories, printed in serial form as La Storia di un burattino in one of Italy’s weekly children’s magazines, the book, Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, was first published in 1883. It’s about the mischievous adventures of an animated marionette and his father, a poor woodcarver named Geppetto.
The dad I referenced was mine, and he read that book to me chapter by chapter, every night at bedtime. When we finished, we read Mother West Wind How Stories and Danny Meadow Mouse by Thomas Burgess, both published in 1915. And he loved to read me poems from Silver Pennies: A Collection of Modern Poems for Boys and Girls, published in 1925 by Blanche Jennings Thompson. He knew my absolute favorite by heart. It was “The Elf and the Dormouse” by Oliver Herford, about how umbrellas were invented.
The years moved on until we more often sat in opposite chairs in the living room reading to ourselves, but my dad was the one who taught me the value of a great story. He was the one who instilled in me my love of books and reading.
Years later, I watched my children’s delight as my husband read them Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling as I joined in the nightly bedtime story ritual.
It’s no wonder I love the idea of World Read Aloud Day.
In 2007, literacy expert Pam Allyn visited Kibera, an area of extreme poverty in Nairobi, Kenya. Realizing the desire the children had to read, write and share their stories, she also saw how life’s circumstances had placed barriers in their way triggering an underlying belief:
“Literacy is not a gift given just to some lucky ones, it is a foundational human right that brings joy, economic independence, gender equity and a pathway out of poverty.”
Inspired, she came back to the United States and mobilized a group of friends and leaders to join her in founding LitWorld. It’s all about sharing stories, building community and cultivating a love of reading and writing. It’s designed to encourage creative expression and build literacy skills.
Now celebrated in 173 countries and counting, World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults to celebrate the power of words.
This year, World Read Aloud Day is February 5th. So, let’s take action! Let’s show the world that everyone has the right to read. Let’s all celebrate the day by grabbing a book, finding an audience and reading out loud. And when you’re done, share your favorite read-aloud moments on social media with #WorldReadAloudDay, and be sure to tag @Scholastic, @LitWorldSays and three friends so they can join, too.
Who inspired you to read? Please, share a favorite memory of reading aloud.