Eleven years ago, I started the Global Read Aloud on little more than an idea and a hope; that perhaps through a shared read aloud we could create pathways around the world, expanding our knowledge but shrinking our otherization, growing our curiosity, and diminishing hate. That by sitting with the same book in our hands and gathering around the act of listening we could open up a flow of questions that would ultimately lead to a deeper acknowledgment of our own shared humanity and perhaps leave us all with a sense of needing to take care of one another more. Perhaps a lofty goal, but a goal nonetheless. And so we read, and shared, and connected, and sat in awe of the stories and of the power of others as we traveled around the world through technology, as we played Mystery Skype to figure out where all these new friends were, as authors took us behind the scenes and told us their secrets as we marveled at the worlds they had created. We knew it was magical. We knew that the books were not just pages glued together but portals to a world where with reading at its heart we saw a path forward for better. We knew that being able to bring the world in through this shared read aloud somehow made the walls disappear, if even for a moment so that we truly could see the people we all are connected to.
This year is the final year of the GRA and I am ready to stand back in awe. To marvel at all of the good that this one idea has brought into the world. It will leave a hole in the world of literacy and also in my own life, but I know that in that hole is an opportunity for even further connections and innovation to reside. That out there are new ideas concocted by someone who sees a way to push our connections even further, to continue to remind us of our debt to each other.
So this year, in a year that seems to have brought so many horrors into our lives, we gather one last time around the magnificent books and the creators behind them. We push ourselves extra hard as we run this final mile. We take the risks, we open up, we sit in the knowledge that together we are more, that together we can. We hold our breath before we crack open the book and then let the connections happen as we ask our kids to ponder the worlds that Juana Martinez-Neal, Traci Sorrell, Charlene Willing McManis, Zanib Mian, Jason Reynolds, and Linda Sue Park have invented for us. We reach out so that we can once again let one book connect the world. And we know that through the shared love of a read aloud and a shared love of our students, we, too, changed the world.
And so in partnership with Skype in the Classroom, I would like to invite you to celebrate these incredible books and authors as we gather one last time. And what better way to do it than asking the very creators themselves to share a glimpse of their world and their work? To allow the Global Read Aloud to be connected with them as we celebrate these connections and pathways toward a more just world? I don’t have the right words to thank these incredible people for wanting to give any kind of time to this little project i dreamed up 11 years ago, I hope maybe you can help me in expressing our gratitude by sharing their books, by buying their books, by reviewing their books and making these books part of our stories for years to come.
Who will we welcome and when?
It has been 11 years of love for books, of care for a world that at times feels really lonely and harsh. 11 years of dreaming. 11 years of trust. Of hope. And of connections. Won’t you join me for this last year as we celebrate all that we did and all that we are?