“This pig. No, this pig. No, this pig. No, this pig. No THIS pig. Wee, wee, wee, wee, weeeeeeee!” It’s Little Friend’s first story. Told independently, with or without socks on, encored with peals of laughter and repeat performances.
I can’t seem to get enough of the cuddle, page-turn, rhyming, repetition cadence of reading out loud to Little Friend. Unless I’m overly exhausted (eyes drooping in the middle of a sentence) or overly hungry (stomach growling in the middle of a sentence, eliciting a “What? Noise?” query from Little Friend), her request for “More” at the final page of a book warms my heart. It’s a gift, this ability to read. It’s a gift, this ability to expand worlds. It’s a gift, this shared intimacy of a book. As Joseph Addison asserts, “Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.”
It breaks my heart to think that not everyone has the tools necessary to unlock the worlds stuffed into the pages of a book. Illiteracy, poverty, fragmentation of society, distractions of media, video games: the list of villains in the decline of literacy is long and multi-faceted. How can one more round of “This Little Pig” ever combat such foes?
Yet I have to believe the power of words will win.
World Read Aloud Day, organized by LitWorld, an international non-profit organization working toward global literacy, is just around the corner. On March 9, 2011, a decisive blow for reading will be struck against illiteracy. Around the world, children, parents, teachers, teens, and adults will join together to promote one of the greatest tools in living a good life: reading. Some participants will join in a 24-hour Read Aloud Marathon in New York City’s Times Square. Other participants, like me and Little Friend, will simply share some cuddle-and-read-time, using this form to record our read-aloud minutes to be tallied with readers around the globe. LitWorld’s goal is to total up “74 million minutes in honor of the 774 million people worldwide who cannot read or write.”
Will you join in?
Some Ideas for Making Reading Fun
- Build a Story Fort: What’s better than rearranging couch pillows, draping blankets, and adding tunnels? Why, grabbing a flashlight and a book to read inside the fort, of course!
- Serve a “Reading Course” at Dinner: Take a few minutes of dinner time to read a book out loud. For extra credit (and a pat on the back from yours truly), serve a book-related dish. (I’m thinking Little Friend would greatly enjoy a plate of cookies and a glass of milk to go along with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.)
- Draw a Story: Take a page from LitWorld. Download their adorable animals and balloons coloring page and have a family coloring/story-making session. Each person could write down what one animal is thinking and doing. Then weave it all together for a “family quilt” kind of tale.
Some Ideas for Great Read Alouds
Little Friend and I personally guarantee these books will be hits in your household:
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis (children’s literature)
While all books encourage imagination, this book exploits it. Short, pithy, and memorable, the words and illustrations have a simplicity that belies the complexity of the underlying message: the innocent beauty that radiates from a believer in imagination. (Warning: having an empty cardboard box on hand prior to reading this book might be necessary…)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (young adult literature)
At first a seemingly straightforward coming of age tale, When You Reach Me morphs into a complex consideration of the meaning of friendship, love, time, and growing up. You may need a degree in astro-physics to grasp some of the underlying time travel constructs, but a little brain flexing never hurts.
Never before have I encountered a book that is so complexly masterful in plot construction, character development, mystery weaving, literary finesse, and, in the end, still manages to surprise the socks off me. I didn’t want Special Topics in Calamity Physics to end, because I know few books can entertain, enthrall, and instruct quite like this. The book follows narrator Blue van Meer through her final year of high school, beginning with a murder and concluding with answers that only raise more mysteries. It’s fun. And smart. Love it.
Happy Birthday today to the great Theodor Geisel, who also concurred that reading has great value in life: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Why not celebrate Dr. Seuss’s life’s work by joining in on World Read Aloud Day, Wednesday March 9, 2011. The best part? You can enjoy books wherever you happen to be on March 9 (I beg forgiveness for my poetic license): “I would read books in a boat! And I would read them with a goat…And I will read them in the rain. And in the dark. And on a train. And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good so good you see! So I will read them in a box. And I will read them with a fox. And I will read them in a house. And I will read them with a mouse. And I will read them here and there. Say! I will read them ANYWHERE!”
This post has been shared at Works For Me Wednesday!