Make plans now to be sure to read aloud to your child or grandchild tomorrow! February 1 is World Read-Aloud Day, a day to enjoy reading aloud with children and to develop awareness of literacy needs around the world.
Did you know, for example, that
o A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a child born to an illiterate woman. (UNESCO)
o According to the latest report (2016), 758 million adults – two thirds of them women – lack basic reading and writing skills. (UNESCO)
o Poorly literate individuals are less likely to participate in democratic processes and have fewer chances to fully exercise their civil rights. (UNESCO)
o Reading aloud to children every day puts them almost a year ahead of children who do not receive daily read-aloud time, regardless of parental income, education, or cultural background. (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)
One of my favorite stories of reading aloud is found in the Book of Nehemiah, in the Bible. The Jewish people had been exiled in Babylon for 70 years. They rebuilt the temple when they were allowed to return to their own land, but the walls of Jerusalem remained in ruins. Then Nehemiah came on the scene. He made a plan and organized the workers, and despite opposition and harassment from enemies of the Jews, the wall was completely reconstructed in just 52 days.
Then the people gathered inside the walls and asked Ezra the priest to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, “which the Lord had given for Israel to obey.”
“So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law. … When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.
“Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
“The Levites … then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places. They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage. …
With understanding came weeping. But Nehemiah and Ezra and the Levites comforted the people and encouraged them to be joyful instead.
“So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” (Nehemiah 8)
Reading aloud to children benefits them in so many ways, as I often share about on my Facebook page DianeStortzBooks. Teaching them to love books and reading is one of those, and that just might be part of the key that unlocks a lifelong love of reading and understanding God’s Word.
So find a child, find a book, and get ready to read aloud. Tomorrow is World Read-Aloud Day!
World Read-Aloud Day is a project of LitWorld, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded by literacy expert Pam Allyn in 2007. LitWorld works with a broad coalition of national and international partners to ensure that young people worldwide can experience the joy and transformation of reading, writing, and storytelling.