I started the Global Read Aloud with a dream, a hope, and a wish to connect my own students to the rest of the world. I knew that books held a magic that we could use to create connections and I knew that my students needed ways to speak to others, a way to embrace technology and make it more meaningful, a way to bring the world in. So one summer night, in 2010, the Global Read Aloud was born. And boy, has it ever grown.
From it’s humble beginnings of less than 200 students all reading The Little Prince to this year’s project where I stopped counting after we hit 500,000 students, this project has become its own magnificent entity. A “thing” that you do, a tradition that keeps growing and growing. And so, it is at a point where I feel like I have to share a few things about being the creator of the GRA and what this project looks like from the back. What it feels to be headquarters, creator, mastermind, email answerer, tweet reader, and every single person approver, or any other role that this project requires. It is time I set a few things straight.
To all of you who have loved this project and made it your own. Who have championed it, shared it, made it better than what it was; thank you. Thank you from the bottom of me. Thank you for seeing its beauty and taking the time to believe in it.
To the authors who have given their time, who have given up writing time, who have connected, who have recorded, who have been involved. You have taken this project to a whole new level. You have made it magical.
But to those of you who keep sharing all of the things that are wrong with the project, how it would only be better if this, first of all, I am sorry that it cannot live up to what you had dreamed. Secondly, I am one person. I am someone who has 4 children under the age of 6, who teaches full-time, who writes, and speaks, and reads so many books to keep this thing going. Who needs to sleep and even sometimes not work.
I get your frustration at missed connections. I get when an author is not involved enough. When a book doesn’t fit perfectly. When the project is ending and you have just found out about it and there is no other project this year. I get when it falls over a break, or when the tool you use is not working. I get that you get frustrated when I cannot buy the books for you, I am a teacher, I buy the books myself too. I get it. But I cannot fix it. I cannot make this better. I am one person, someone who is trying so hard to make this project the best project for those who choose to do it.
The Global Read Aloud is a beautiful thing if you make it beautiful. The power of it lies in its simplicity; you make it into what you need. There will never be lesson plans to follow. There will never be everything that someone could want. I will never be able to do all of the things that some wish I would. That is not the spirit of the project, that is not my desire. This project remains at its core a way to connect students, and sometimes that involves figuring things out that we are not completely sure of how to do.
So as I look back at this year, it’s sixth, one thing is for sure; it was big! And I am not sure it is meant to be. I am not sure that we are meant to have as many places to connect, as many books to choose from. I feel like the project is turning into something that is not about the connections but more about the size, and that was never my intention. So for the next few months, I am going to be doing a lot of thinking. I would love your thoughts as well, but please, only the positive ones, I think I have filled my quota for the year on the negative.
I don’t know how the Global Read Aloud will look next year. I don’t know if there will be a next year. There are so many incredible things, but for now it is time to scrutinize and decide; where will it go? What will it look like? How do we keep it about the books and the connecting, rather than the frustrations? My ears are open, my heart is heavy, and yet, thankful for all of you who have loved it. You are what make me do it year after year, you are what makes all of this worth it.