Friday, February 1, 2019

Free reading sites to use on World Read Aloud Day – or anytime!

1 Feb, is World Read Aloud Day. Exciting reading activities are taking place all over the world. People all around the globe are reading aloud together and sharing stories on this day, to promote literacy as a human right that belongs to all people. It is important to celebrate days like these that put reading in focus. However, reading aloud to children should take place every day! In my previous blog post, Reading aloud to children - is it important? I wrote about what some of the research studies show about the importance of reading aloud to children.

Taken from the Nalibai site
Activities we will see happening on Read Aloud Day
Here are a few examples:
  1. Some people create their own special one-on-one read aloud moment at school or at home. The Litworld website gives a read aloud guide that shows how to read to children effectively.
  2. Many teachers connect virtually with authors, classrooms, and more for a special read aloud session using Skype.
  3. Some classes around the globe read to each other via Skype.
  4. Many websites such as KidLitTV have some read aloud sessions where children can watch people reading awesome children’s books.
Our World Read Aloud Day celebration in Grade 3
I am the computer teacher at my school, and my Grade 3 class celebrated World Read Aloud Day in the computer lab. In this post I want to tell you about some of the things we did on WRAD and show you some of the reading sites we visited.  

1. World Read Aloud Day with Nalibali
Here in South Africa, Nal'ibali (isiXhosa for “here's the story”), a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children's potential through storytelling and reading, always does something great for World Read Aloud Day. Every year on World Read Aloud Day, Nalibali commissions a brand-new story and translates it into all 11 official SA languages. This year's story is "Where are you?" written by Ann Walton. It can be downloaded from their website free of charge.  Nalibali encourages adults and caregivers across the country, to join them in reading it aloud to children on WRAD (World Reading Aloud Day) They have called this the #WRADChallenge2019. 

We downloaded the story and read it together, aloud, in our computer lesson. 

After that 
the class visited a number of websites to see what they were about, and then they selected and read a story from one of the following sites, aloud. but softly!

2. The African Storybook website
This is a wonderful local website that has a huge amount of Grade R-4 beautifully illustrated Creative Commons picture storybooks that one can read, translate, change etc. I have done numerous activities using this website. The stories are in many different African languages - one simply has to choose English. The storybooks can be read online or offline, or downloaded from the website and printed. All the storybooks are available for free. The website is also available as an app that one can download. 

3. Storyweaver website
This is a wonderful website from India that has a huge amount of Creative Commons beautifully illustrated stories. It works on similar lines to the African Storybook website in that the 
storybooks can be read online or offline, or downloaded from the website and printed. All the storybooks are available for free. They also focus on Indian languages but all one has to do is type in English for a large variety of lovely stories. The website was awarded a substantial grant from Google which enabled it to expand its storybase to 11,154 stories in 136 languages.

Both of the above story websites make use of four levels in reading:

Level 1: Easy words, word repetition, less than 250 words
Level 2: Simple concepts, up to 600 words
Level 3: Longer sentences, up to 1500 words
Level 4: Longer, more nuanced stories, more than 1500 words

4. Storyline online
This is a popular children's literacy website created by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, which provides free storytelling videos and resources for parents and teachers to foster a love of reading in children. The stories are nearly all, if not all, in the form of videos.

5. Litworld This is a site I haven't used much yet, but I plan to explore it. LitWorld is a 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.  They have an interesting approach in that their year-round, child-centered programming is designed to develop each of the 7 Strengths which LitWorld sees as inherent in every child. LitWorld’s 7 Strengths are: Belonging, Kindness, Curiosity, Friendship, Confidence, Courage, and Hope.

Studies show that one of the most important things we can do for our children, at home and at school, is to read aloud to them. The benefits are enormous when this becomes an ongoing practice. Why not make reading aloud to your class a daily habit? 

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