February 3 marks the 12th annual World Read Aloud Day, which spotlights the power and benefits of reading aloud by encouraging families, students, and educators around the globe to join in the practice as a shared experience on the same day. This year, in light of the pandemic, and the new concerns it has introduced regarding students’ social-emotional well-being and potential learning loss, this emphasis on literacy feels particularly important. With that in mind, Scholastic, literacy nonprofit LitWorld, and former NFL star Malcolm Mitchell have combined efforts to make the celebration of World Read Aloud Day more accessible than ever.

Scholastic has created a website for the event where visitors will have access to a robust slate of resources, including articles from Scholastic Classroom magazines, and a full version of the picture book Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, which is one of the Scholastic BookFlix activities available via the company’s Learn at Home subscription program. The site features custom illustrations from author and literacy advocate Mitchell’s latest picture book, My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World (2020), illustrated by Michael Robertson. Mitchell’s nonprofit Share the Magic Foundation routinely features Read with Malcolm literacy initiatives, which provide books and programming to underserved communities. In honor of World Read Aloud Day, Scholastic is donating 10,000 books to Share the Magic’s Fourth Annual READBowl Global Reading Competition for students—running now—which wraps up with Mitchell announcing the World Champions on February 7, Super Bowl Sunday.

Those who want to take part in World Read Aloud Day can additionally sign up for Scholastic’s free VirtualKit for the festivities, comprised of educational materials and discussion guides for a curated list of 30 titles, printable activity sheets, expanded access to Scholastic BookFlix offerings, and select digital excerpts from such favorite books as Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, and Allies by Alan Gratz. The kit also contains a special read-aloud message from Mitchell.

Families and educators have the opportunity to participate in the World Read Aloud Day social media challenge, too, by sharing a photo or video of a read-aloud moment using #WRADChallenge and #WorldReadAloudDay and tagging at least three friends, as well as tagging @Scholastic and @LitWorldSays on Twitter, and @scholasticinc and @litworld on Instagram.

LitWorld has developed its own lineup of resources for a WRAD packet offering tips and fun activities for participants.

Where It All Began

LitWorld was founded in 2007 by literacy educator and author Pam Allyn. “I was visiting a school and reading aloud to a class when a student approached me and asked if I could make sure everyone knew how good it felt to have a read aloud,” Allyn said, recalling the earliest days of her mission. “His statement made me pause and I asked him for his help with an idea to make this happen. He suggested we have a celebration for the read-aloud because, as he said: ‘When it’s my birthday everyone pays attention to me! Let’s have a celebration for the read-aloud so everyone pays attention to it!’ In that moment, the concept for World Read Aloud Day was born.”

The World Read Aloud Day program itself was launched in 2010 and according to Allyn, Scholastic has been “a key partner in helping this movement grow” from its earliest days. She noted that Scholastic has long been a “champion of literacy and sharing reading best practices that support children, teachers, and families, and once LitWorld and Scholastic joined forces to amplify the importance of reading aloud, we saw very quickly that there was a striking and immediate impact. More and more people began to understand that the social-emotional learning and skill-building that happens during the read-aloud can be life-changing.”

As the partnership deepened and the WRAD program expanded, Allyn’s role at LitWorld transitioned. Over the past several years she has served as senior v-p for innovation and development at Scholastic Education and is currently senior literacy adviser to various divisions at Scholastic and still representing LitWorld as its founder. World Read Aloud has grown every year since its inception and is now celebrated on the first Wednesday in February each year by millions of people in more than 173 countries.