February 1 marked World Read Aloud Day. I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate by sharing my books with 75 fourth and fifth grade students at Bancroft Elementary School in Wilmington. Through the generosity of United Way of Delaware, I was among several authors who traveled to schools across Delaware to share the love of reading. In addition, United Way purchased nearly 40 copies each of my books The Sound in the Basement and Beach Fun: Poems of Surf and Sand. This meant that every student received a signed book to take home.
For decades, research has indicated the importance of reading aloud with children. We often think that such reading should stop when kids are old enough to read on their own. Teachers know better. Students can understand stories that are far beyond their capability to read on their own. Reading aloud to elementary—or even older students—allows teachers to introduce higher-level concepts and vocabulary.
One of my fondest memories of elementary school is my third-grade teacher reading aloud to us each day from a biography of Wild Bill Hickok. I don’t remember much about the book. In fact, I don’t think it was even a particularly good book. But I do know that I looked forward to hearing her read aloud to us at the end of each school day.
That’s the beauty of reading aloud to children. It’s our enthusiasm about a book and our joy in reading that matter even more than the titles we choose. So let’s celebrate World Read Aloud Day all year long by sharing our love of reading with children. In a world that far too often revolves around electronic stimulus, the sharing of a real printed book with children is a greater gift than ever before.
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