Update on the Global Read Aloud Gives Back 2016

2016 marked several milestones for the Global read Aloud; we had more than 1,000,000 students participate and we created The Global Read Aloud Gives Back as a way for students to do service learning.  The very first non-profit we chose to give back to was Palms & Souls, a micro non-profit that focuses on sustaining a communicty center in Jocotenango called the El Buen Samaritano Community Center.  One of the major needs was for books for the sixtythree kids that regularly use the community center and we thought this was a perfect mission for the Global Read Aloud community.

Throughout our six weeks, students raised money for the book drive and in order for a small library to be built at the community center.  I am now so happy to reveal how it went as Reidun and Ryan Bures just returned from their trip.  So how did we do?

As Reidun wrote in her newsletter:

“On March 31, students entered the El Buen Samaritano library for the first time. Initially, they went towards the chairs in the corner and just looked with wide eyes. But once Ryan said “You can touch them,” the floodgates opened. There was pointing, sharing, touching, and READING. Little hands grasped onto brand-new covers and the smiles were endless. Some students even hugged the books. It looked like they had never seen so many books in one place. Honestly, I’m not sure if many of them had ever seen a new book before. This brought tears to my eyes, not only because I knew these stories were going to be educationally and emotionally empowering to these students, but I also knew that each of these books contained such a tangible expression of your long-distance love. These books were sent from schools all across the world, from our family, friends, and strangers. They were sent with notes from the University of Wisconsin medical students, and from friends in Florida and Georgia. Words can’t describe the power of that moment. We have been motivated by believing in the potential of these 958 books to truly impact our 63 kids, and it is so gratifying to see it come to fruition. So we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. Your gift has provided these kids with an invaluable tool for enhancing their academic achievement while opening their minds to the innumerable joys of literature.  “

And what does this look like?  Here are a few images from their trip, see if you can spot your favorite books.




Thank you to each and everyone one of you for making a difference in the lives of these 63 children.



Tune In With Lauren Castillo! #GRA16

Note:  This event is being rescheduled due to technical difficulties with recording the event.  I am so sorry and will post details of a new event as soon as I sort that out.


I am so incredibly thankful to all of the authors who wrote the amazing books of the year’s Global Read Aloud.  To end this year’s project the talented, and generous, Lauren Castillo, our picture book author/illustrator has agreed to join us all for a Google Hangout Live!


This will be recorded and can be watched right here after the live event.

Submit your questions for Lauren here, the more original the better

GRA Gives Back – Meet Estephania #GRA16

With the news that over $2,000 worth of books have been purchased so far for the community center El Buen Samaritano we are so grateful for the Global read Aloud.  From penny drives to business days, we love what so many kids are doing to support this community center and truly make a difference in the lives of these 60 kids.

Every week, we will feature one of the children that the GRA Gives Back campaign is trying to help with its partnership with Palms & Souls.  We hope that these stories will show you the very real impact that our project can have for these children in Guatemala.  If you missed the partnership announcement or need ideas for how you can help, please see this post. 



Hi! My name is Esthephania A. Luis Quintanilla.

Age: 9 years

Grade: 2nd

What I like most about school:  I like learning in all the classes.

Favorite books: Sleeping Beauty or stories in English

Future Job: International Chef

Favorite Sport or Pastime: Basketball.

What I like to do most: Play with my friends.

What I like most of the El Buen Samaritano: Spending time with the volunteers.

Esthephania can’t wait to have books at the community center! Her dream is to travel the world and eat food from different places, so she would love books that are set in different countries.

All the students are counting down the days until the books arrive. The support so far has been amazing! You are flooding this community with love and hope through your book donations! Thank you so much.

GRA Gives Back – Meet Dulce #GRA16

Every week, we will feature one of the children that the GRA Gives Back campaign is trying to help with its partnership with Palms & Souls.  We hope that these stories will show you the very real impact that our project can have for these children in Guatemala.  If you missed the partnership announcement or need ideas for how you can help, please see this post. 

Meet Dulce!

Hi, my name is  Katherine Dulce María Castellanos Martínez.

Age: 12 years

Grade: 6th

What I like most about school: Music classes

Favorite Book: I love all books and stories.

Future Job: Teacher

Favorite sport or pastime: Reading and helping with the smaller children

What I like to do most: Reading stories to other students at the center.

What I like most of the El Buen Samaritano: I like everything, but especially the volunteers!

Dulce is really hoping for books to read to the smaller children at El Buen Samaritano. She is a great helper and loves to tutor younger students in the afternoon.

We can’t thank you enough for supporting this project!

GRA Gives Back: Meet Jeferson #GRA16

Every week, we will feature one of the children that the GRA Gives Back campaign is trying to help with its partnership with Palms & Souls.  We hope that these stories will show you the very real impact that our project can have for these children in Guatemala.  If you missed the partnership announcement or need ideas for how you can help, please see this post.  

Jeferson at El Buen Samaritano Community Center




Jeferson at El Buen Samaritano Community Center



Hi, My name is Jeferson Ariel Enrique Castellanos Martínez.

Age: 8 years

Grade: 2nd

Favorite Book: I like a lot of different books

What I like most about school: Spending free time with friends

Future job: Police

Favorite pastime: Soccer

What I like to do most: Playing sports with my friends

What I like most of the El Buen Samaritano: Being with the fun volunteers and Mr.

Magda, the classes, and food

Jeferson and his brother at home

Jeferson and his brother at home

Jeferson's sister in his kitchen at home

Jeferson’s sister in his kitchen at home

Jeferson's home­­­­


Jeferson’s home­­­­

Jeferson is so excited about the potential of having a library at the community center. He

likes to read, but doesn’t get an opportunity to read books very often. He is usually limited

to one page stories printed off the internet. This book drive could be a life-changer for

him. Thank you for believing and investing in Jeferson!

To see the book drive, go here.

Final Information for Global Read Aloud 2016 #GRA16

I thought a post with all of the pertinent information for this year might be helpful as we get ready to kick off.  With more than 891,000 students signed up, this is again a record breaking year.

If you are new to the GRA, or would just like a refresher, please see
this post https://theglobalreadaloud.com/2016/06/08/if-you-are-new-to-the-
  It is a great place to start with the basic

To add yourself to the official map go here https://theglobalreadaloud.com/2016/09/29/official-global-read-aloud-2016-map-gra16/

To see ideas:

I am greatful to those who have shared a few ideas from past years or what
they plan on doing this year.  Go here to see them https://drive.google.com/

What to read and when:
For the chapter breakdowns for each book and to see which picture books
will be which weeks, go here https://theglobalreadaloud.com/2016/

The hashtag is very active with ideas shared all of the time, this year’s hashtag on Twitter
is #GRA16

The books also have individual hashtag’s if you would like to use those,
they are

Lauren Castillo – #GRALauren
Pax – #GRAPax
Orbiting Jupiter – #GRAOJ
All American Boys – #GRAAAB

Here is the link to see ideas shared https://docs.google.com/document/d/

To get merchandise to show your support, go here  https://shop.

To connect:
To join the Facebook group, go here https://www.facebook

To see how to join Edmodo, go here https://theglobalreadaloud.com/2016/05/14/edmodo-groups-for-global-read-aloud-2016-gra16/

GRA Gives Back:
If you have not seen the major announcement on how you can help the GRA give back to a community center in Guatemala please see this post https://theglobalreadaloud.com/2016/08/18/major-announcement-the-global-read-aloud-gives-back-gra16/
Every week we will feature one of the families directly affected by the giving back in order to help you get a feel for what your help will mean.  I am so excited to partner with Palms and Souls to try to make a difference in the life of kids.

Breakout EDU 

We have partnered with Breakout EDU to create games just for GRA.  To see the games (and get your super awesome GRA bookmarks) go here http://www.breakoutedu.com/gra/

Write About Partnership.  

We have once again partnered up with Write About,a blogging platform, to give every participant a year’s free membership.  To read more about it and get signed up, go here   https://theglobalreadaloud.com/2016/09/11/global-read-aloud-welcomes-back-write-about-gra16/

Hopefully this helps you have an incredible project.  Thank you for believing in the project, thank you for believing in me.  May this year be another incredible year.

Global Read Aloud and #TeachersPayTeachers

It has come to my attention that there are products being sold on Teachers Pay Teachers and other similar sites that are being marketed to those participating in the GRA.  While I have no problem with Teachers Pay Teachers, I do have a problem with the Global Read Aloud being used as a way to profit off of others.

I started this project in 2010 and have spent hundreds of hours without pay since then to keep it free.  The only money I make from the project is if you buy a t-shirt and even that is just a few dollars.  The profits from that go to offset the cost of buying the books I have to buy to keep reading for the project every year, running the website, as well as any legal things such as trademarking the name.  Because yes, the name is trademarked and may not be present on any products not sanctioned by me, and I have not sanctioned any projects besides the items in the official store.

Thank you to those of you who have created beautiful resources and shared them for free; this is the spirit of the project; connecting with others and helping each other out.  I will never make this project one that you have to pay for.  I do not ever plan on making any kind of worthwhile money from this project.  The authors that participate do so for free.

This project is meant to be free, to make the world smaller, to create an incredible reading experience.  Not to make money, so if you are one of the people who has marketed products, please stop, please take them down or at the very least remove the name.  And if you see someone trying to sell something, please let me know or send them to this post.  Thank you.



Global Read Aloud Welcomes Back Write About! #GRA16


Earlier this summer, I was thrilled to find out that Write About wanted to partner up again with the Global Read Aloud community. Connecting reading with authentic writing opportunities is something I strive for and it is always a joy to see the meaningful technology integration that happens during this project. This is why I am thrilled that Write About, a writing platform created by educators, is back to once again generously sponsor digital student writing for all Global Read Aloud classrooms…not only for the project, but for the entire year!

Partnership highlights:

Last year on Write About, GRA classrooms posted more than 5,000 pieces of student writing in response to the books and thousands more comments between the readers! Teachers created and shared hundreds of custom multimedia writing starters (Ideas) in addition to taking advantage of the pre-made content in the Groups dedicated to each book. Write About was still in it’s infancy at that point and the huge amount of collaborative users stretched them to quickly grow and adapt as a platform. The upgrades and new features since last year are incredible and were built directly from the conversations they have with teachers (many of whom are GRA teachers) on a weekly basis. The site is easier, faster, more powerful, more customizable and has even more curricular content readily available.

What makes Write About different:

Write About is a platform that goes beyond blogging. It is a safe student writing community that has built-in content, embedded publishing layers for an authentic audience, feedback tools and engagement data.

Some favorite features:

  • Students can choose to share within your own classroom or share with other Groups.
  • Publishing and commenting can be moderated by the teacher.
  • Wonderful writing Ideas are included that students can choose for inspiration across all genres.
  • GRA has its own unique communities set up around each book to use to connect with each other.
  • Outsiders can comment safely without being members (all guest comments are moderated by the teacher).
  • There are scalable options for entire schools or districts who are looking for a writing and publishing platform. See those features here.

Get started using Write About and receive the exclusive GRA upgrade:

  • View the project landing page: writeabout.com/GRA
  • Watch this video (4:54) to see the new Write About in action and learn how to plan for your GRA student writing
  • Make sure you have a Write About teacher account (click Register if new or Sign In if returning)
  • Complete the GRA Upgrade form to access the code and step-by-step directions for completing the upgrade. (for both new AND returning users)
  • Access the Getting Started post for FAQ, to learn how to connect with other classrooms, find links to each book group, use free lesson plans and all view all help documentation


Because I am not in charge of Write ABout, please contact them if you have any needs.  Contact Write About: @mywriteabout on Twitter or info@writeabout.com with all questions

Why this matters:

Whether your young students are just learning how to log on to devices or are older tech pros with smart phones in their pockets, they will be writing in digital spaces for the rest of their lives. When we embrace that energy and model how to transfer their literacy skills to a social community, they learn to positively participate and share their voices. I hope this opportunity will provide many of your classrooms with those meaningfully scaffolded conversations and activities!

A GRA teacher made this video with student interviews last year






Major Announcement: The Global Read Aloud Gives Back! #GRA16

For several years I have witnessed the power of the Global Read Aloud and how much the community does to make the world a better place.  From students doing PSA style videos to educate others on the use of the “R” word in honor of Melody, penny drives to donate to Zoo Atlanta in honor of Ivan, to food drives to help refugees because of reading Fish, the GRA community has stepped up and tried to make the world a better place.  In fact, the children and educators that believe in the Global Read Aloud are what makes it such a special project.  For the past seven years we have believed that we could change the world through a shared read aloud and I think we have, so it is now time to take it to the next level.

I am so excited to announce that for the first time ever, the Global Read Aloud will be partnering up with a micro non-profit to harness all this power of good and hopefully make the lives better of children.  When choosing a non-profit I wanted to make it meaningful, I wanted any help they received to truly make a huge difference, and I wanted the nonprofit to share a similar story of the GRA; someone saw a problem and decided to do something about it.  That is why I am so proud to announce Palms & Souls as our very first non-profit partnership.

Student at home

Who is behind Palms & Souls?

Educator, Reidun Bures, who I work with at OMS,  and her husband Ryan,  traveled to Guatemala for their honeymoon in 2014, never dreaming that they would end up founding a nonprofit. They write,

“We spent a week volunteering at El Buen Samaritano community center in Jocotenango. The community center provides healthy meals, primary education, tutoring, school supplies, and a safe place to play for 60 students. We left the center with a sense of awe and love for all they were doing. But we were also disturbed after seeing the enormous barriers these people faced to bettering their own situations.”

What is the problem in Jocotenango?

In Guatemala, school is only compulsory through 6th grade. Less than 40% of students make it past middle school. Our nonprofit, Palms and Souls, is committed to changing that narrative.  We are partnering with El Buen Samaritano to help them meet some basic needs of the students, but so much more is needed.  These kids need the one tool that has been shown to improve overall academic performance and lead to enriching lives. They need books!

Displaying P1010858.JPG

Why are books so important?

The students in Jocotenango do not have access to books at school, home, or in the community center. Middle and secondary school students are expected to advance in their educations without any access to choice reading material. As teachers who read, we know that books are essential for engaging in topics that stimulate complex thinking and can lead to greater opportunities, yet these students are being denied this vital resource. Access to books would not only help students during their secondary school studies, it would also give them a greater chance to go to college. In order to get admitted to the public university they must take a difficult test that includes reading, math, English, and chemistry. Given what we know about the effect of reading on standardized test scores, access to books coupled with established independent reading times could drastically increase their chances of doing well on this test. Most importantly, books give kids the power to imagine, to dream, and to wonder.  They allow kids to see a world outside of their current situation which is filled with realities of extreme poverty. Books allow kids to dream of a better future even when it seems impossible.  

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At the Community Center 

So how is GRA helping?

Palms and Souls is partnering with the amazing Global Read Aloud community to build a library at the community center in Jocotenango!  We can fill shelf after shelf with new and compelling books that will make the students feel valued. We can build a reading community that emphasizes learning, independence, and hope.  We can do this!  

What can you do?

We know that the Global Read Aloud community is filled with innovative teachers and students who understand and appreciate the power of books. So, we want to let your classrooms be creative in how you help. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. You can choose books to purchase for the library at palmsandsouls.org/bookdrive. The books you select will be purchased in Guatemala and delivered to the community center. It will be a tangible gift from your classroom to theirs.
  2. Other monetary donations are also welcome and needed. The money will be used to purchase books, food staples, and employ academic tutors. Donate at palmsandsouls.org/take-action.
  3. Host your own penny war, car wash or other creative fundraiser.  We would love to see classrooms engineer their own way to contribute to this cause. Feel free to contact us at info@palmsandsouls.org and let us know what your are doing!

Partnering with a nonprofit to truly make a difference in the lives of other children has long been a dream of mine.  I hope that through the combined efforts of GRA that we can help these kids in Guatemala not just have books to read, but give them the tools they need to truly change their life.  So as part of your participation in the GRA this year, I hope you will include something to help Palms & Souls.  Whether it is simply purchasing a book or two from your classroom or something larger than that, together we can make the biggest difference.  So get your students involved, ask them how they would like to participate.  Let’s flood this little non-profit with love and books.

Please let me know if you have any questions and share your amazing ideas in the comments.  I hope you are as excited about this as I am!

PS:  I was asked on Facebook how much the nonprofit proselytizes since in the About section of their website, they say “We want students to grow in love of each other and Christ so they can make a positive impact on their own community.”  My answer was: “Not at all as far as what I know. I think they feel called to do it because of their faith but it is not meant to advocate their faith to others. I do not share their faith and would not pick one that proselytizes.”

Chapter Breakdowns for All Global Read Aloud Books #GRA16

It is time to figure out what we are reading when.  As always, do not worry about falling behind, I do almost every year, but if you do get ahead, please do not spoil it for others.  If you are in an all year school or you have vacation during the 6 weeks, it helps when you post for connections since I know there are many of you out there.

This year we run October 3rd – November 11th.

For the picture book study of Lauren Castillo:

Week 1:

Product Details

Nana in the City

Week 2:

Product Details

The Troublemaker

Week 3:

The Reader written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Lauren Castillo 

Week 4:

Product Details

Twenty Yawns written by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo 

Week 5:

Product Details

Yard Sale written by Eve Bunting illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Week 6:

Your choice!  You decide which on of Lauren’s books you would like to end with.


For Roald Dahl’s The BFG:

Week 1:  The Witching Hour through The Cave

Week 2:  The BFG through Snozzcumbers

Week 3:  The Bloodbottler through Dream-Catching

Week 4:  A Trogglehumper for the Fleshlumpeater through Mixing the Dream

Week 5:  Journey to London through The Royal Breakfast

Week 6:  The Plan through The Author

For Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Week 1: 1 – 5

Week 2:  6 – 10

Week 3:  11 – 16

Week 4:  17 – 23

Week 5:  24 – 27

Week 6: 28 – end


For Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Week 1: One – page 45 stop at “That night…”

Week 2:  Page 45 “That night…” – Three

Week 3:  Four – 100 to “Joseph and Brian Boss…”

Week 4: Page 100 “Joseph and Brian Boss…” – Six

Week 5:  Seven

Week 6:  Eight – End


For All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds

Week 1:  Friday  (p. 5) – p. 40

Week 2:  Saturday (p. 43) – 82

Week 3:  Sunday (p. 85) – Monday Quinn (p. 140)

Week 4:  Monday Rashad (p. 141) –  Tuesday (p.203)

Week 5: Wednesday (p. 208) –  (p. 267)

Week 6:  Thursday Rashad (p. 259) – End


Use this schedule as best as you can, again, do not worry if you get behind, it happens.