Dear Global Read Aloud Community, We Need to Talk #GRA19

Dear amazing, incredible Global Read Aloud community, we need to talk.  Because while this week has been amazing to be a witness to; the connections, the sharing, the love for the books and the stories that connect us all, it has behind the scenes been really hard for me.  I thought a letter might be nice in order to help whoever needs to hear this remember a few things….

This is all run by me, Pernille Ripp, one person, who has a full-time job as a 7th-grade teacher, as well as speaks, trains, and writes outside of that.  Who is the mother to four kids ten and under and the wife to Brandon.  Who cannot always email you back right away or get you approved the moment you ask.  I wish I could, but I can’t.

I am one person reading as many books as I possibly can, who every year tries to pick books that will speak to the experience of people around the world, not just the United States.  That tries to pick books that will spark deep conversations around hard topics that are age-appropriate but may need some unpacking from the adults reading them aloud.  I rely on others to nominate books as much as possible so that I can read widely, I rely on others to vote and let their voices be heard.  Many kids live in hard situations that some adults say are too hard to read about, even when they are written in delicate ways, and yet the world could use a lot more understanding and empathy.  The books that are chosen can be tools for building bridges; we can help kids understand the lives of others in many degrees, even if they don’t understand all of the nuances of something.

You should always read the books beforehand and select the one that will work for you, for your kids, and for your community.  While I have also loved discovering a book alongside students, I would highly discourage doing that with a book that you are investing many weeks into it.  What if it is not a good fit?  What if it doesn’t work for your purpose?  What if you need to prepare extra resources in order to unwrap something?

If you don’t like the book, no problem.  I try to select books that I love and that will start conversations.  Please do remember, though, that every time something is posted about how the books chosen are the wrong choices, how other choices would be better, how they won’t fit your needs, how this year is the year you quit the project, that I read those comments.  That they make their way into my feed and I sit there with a heavy heart reading every single one of them.  And I try really hard to make this work on a global scale.  I try really hard to make this project as easily accessible for all.  To make this work, but that I am only human and those comments hurt, even though I wish they didn’t but I am working on that.

The GRA is free.  I don’t make any money from it but instead spend my own money to send books to people who cannot get them otherwise, to keep the blog running, to pay for lawyers for trademarking and protecting the name.  I will never charge anyone to participate in the GRA.  The premise has always been that all you need is the one book to read aloud, not class sets, not fancy anything, just a book and a way to share it.  This is why I ask everyone to please not sell anything using the project or the people in it.  It goes against the spirit of everything it stands for, and when I ask you to please stop, please be gracious.  Telling me that you are disappointed that I don’t understand that you are just trying to make a living or other negative things does not change my mind, it only cements me asking you to stop further.

That I realize that this year I picked a start date that coincided with Rosh Hashanah and for that I am sorry.  I apologized publicly for it a little while ago but will gladly state it again; I am sorry, it was an oversight and I will do better.  As someone who does not live by any religious calendars, I am at times not clued into major holidays and celebrations, I try but sometimes I fail.  I also know that every year the start date will naturally collide with other holidays, school breaks, or crazy weather.  There simply is no great start date that works for the whole world.  The date I pick every year doesn’t ever work for my own students, we always start two weeks late but rather than push it further in the year, I keep the same and make it work.  Please make it work for you as well if you want, just don’t read ahead, or if you do, don’t spoil it.

That I wish this project could be everything you wanted it to be.  I try, the community tries, but sometimes it won’t work, and that’s ok too.  No need to announce your departure or slam the doors, just do what you need to do and know you will always be welcomed back.

I never set out to create a global project but it is what I have created.  I love this project like a fifth child, and this year in its tenth year, it still floors me that so many of you show up every year.  I am one person and so as one person I can only give you my deepest appreciation for the love you have shown this project and for the love you have shown me.  I hope this year’s project is amazing for you, I know I cannot wait to get started myself.

With all my best,



Win a Skype Visit with Padma Venkatraman for Global Read Aloud 2019 #GRA19 #GRABridge

Tomorrow kicks off the 10th annual Global Read Aloud with more than 1 million students taking part around the world.  It is hard to believe that what started as a small idea has grown into this global movement all surrounding books.

To help us celebrate our 10th year, Padma Venkatraman, author of The Bridge Home, is holding the following contest with the grand prize being a free Skype call with her!  The winner will be decided by my students after October 18th.

To enter:

Create an original poster to raise awareness of hunger, homelessness, or any other social justice issue inspired by or connected to The Bridge Home that you feel strongly about.
Do artwork using any medium you choose, add a caption (original phrase or sentence or reference a quote with a proper citation) that is integrated into the poster.
Take a photo and upload it to the google form below.
You may create the poster on your own or as a group, but please indicate if it is an individual or group entry and your grade ( class level) and provide contact information for your school and responsible teacher.
Please submit by October 15th. All submissions must contain work created solely by young people.  Contest is open globally.

If You’re Reading Stella Diaz Has Something to Say – Read This #GRA19 #GRAStella

Angela Domingues, author extraordinaire of our GRA early reader choice, shared the following information.

It’s almost #GRA19 time! As promised, here is some information on my weekly videos. Starting Monday, September 30th, please submit your #GRAStella questions through my website. That following Monday, I’ll post a video on my blog where I answer as many of your questions as I can.

When submitting questions, please make sure to include the name of your classroom, students’ names, and #GRAStella as the subject line, too.

I’ll also be selecting at random a winner each week to receive an autographed copy of Stella Díaz Has Something to Say and an advanced copy of my upcoming follow up, Stella Díaz Never Gives Up.

Finally, I will post videos up to Monday, November 4th. That’s it! I can’t wait to go on this adventure with you all soon!

Reading A Bridge Home? Read this! #GRA19

Rhode Island, September 2019

Dear educator,

It’s impossible for me to express how grateful I feel that THE BRIDGE HOME is a Global Read Aloud choice. I’ve long admired this wonderful endeavor and I love how Ms. Ripp is able to connect people around the world through the power of words. I can’t wait for you to meet Rukku, Viji, Muthu, Arul and Kutti – all of whom are based on friends I had as a child, growing up in India. As a gesture of thanks, I’ll be giving away 4 free skype as we countdown to #GRABridge. If interested, please follow me on twitter (@padmatv) and watch for the Skype giveaways (planned for Thursdays or Fridays this September).

Opening a book I love, to me, is like opening a door into someone’s heart. While I read, for a while, I live, breathe, and feel what the characters experience – and when I finish it, I don’t just have the sense that I was transported to another place or time but also that I have been transformed just a little by the moments of empathy I experienced. If you and your students feel this way as they read THE BRIDGE HOME, I hope to connect with them (through weekly blog posts and Q&A videos) and encourage them to engage in activities that raise awareness and bring positivity and change into their lives, homes, environments and communities. To that end, and to augment your GRA experience and make it more fun, I’ve also created a lot of educational materials that are freely downloadable, such as:

Photo resource (pdf of photographs of the city that inspired THE BRIDGE HOME, with annotations)

Reader’s Theater (for 2 scenes in the novel)

Video mini-lessons on geography and showing how to write in Tamil (which the characters speak)

Podcast of me reading the first chapter

Pronunciation guide (for Indian names and words)

Discussion guide

Suggestions for social justice activities

Cooking up stories (a recipe for Indian style saffron yogurt and links to recipes for food mentioned in THE BRIDGE HOME)

Writing prompts, cross-curricular links with mathematics, art, social studies, and much much more.

You can find this on my website ( and then click on The Bridge Home tab). On my website, you’ll also see links to my social media and you can sign up to follow my blog posts there as well (and that way you’ll be notified each time I put up a new post). I will be taking questions weekly on my blog – and I plan to choose a few of the questions I receive before 12:00 noon US EST Wednesday each week and create a video with answers every Friday during #GRA19.

In addition, Ms. Ripp has very kindly agreed, with the help of her class, to judge two contests (a writing contest and an art contest) during #GRABridge (more information to come).

Here’s looking forward to building bridges with words, across the world, together. Books bridge homes and hearts!



The Global Read Aloud and Literacy Curriculum

One of the most common questions, I receive in regard to the Global Read Aloud is how, and whether, it integrates into a pre-existing literacy curriculum. Is this project merely a fun add-on or is there actual academic value in it that can be defended in case it needs to be?


While there would be little wrong with the program if it was “just” a fun add-on, the answer is that; yes, the Global Read Aloud has academic value, and not just for the students, but for the teachers themselves as well. So let’s break it down a bit.


Because the program centers around a read aloud, that means you have a mentor text. Many participants use the text as their central text while they work through lessons on story development and analysis. Examples of this include: character analysis, inferring, theme analysis, working through challenging words. In fact, in looking through the Common Core Reading standards most are covered:


“Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.” Because the text is not only read aloud but also discussed with a worldwide audience, students are not only expected to understand the text but also be able to infer and formulate their opinions about the text in a way to effectively communicate with others.

“Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.” The whole notion of the read aloud is to understand the story, to predict what will happen, to discuss and share with others, and be able to hold the whole text in your mind while you continue to listen to the read aloud.

“Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.” Tracking the characters along with the story allows us to work on stamina, to work on long-term predictions, and to get to know the characters and story on a deeper level.

“Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.” In order to convey nuance, the read aloud often lends itself well to studying the craft of writing as seen through word choice and figurative meaning.

“Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.” One of the main points of the GRA is to dive into perspective, this does not only include the perspective of the narrators but also how our own perspective and lens impacts our understanding and experience with the text.


“Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.” Because there are additional tools layered in with the Global Read Aloud, such as author videos, student presentations, and other content created by students around the world, this is a natural extension of the learning.

“Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.” I love having my students discuss with others what they believe will happen in the story, as well as what the characters should do in order to stay within character. Diving deep into a character and then being able to articulate and argue one’s opinion is a vital skill.

“Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.” I always add in other sources and use the Global Read Aloud as a springboard into inquiry. Because the books chosen are often set in unfamiliar places or center around unfamiliar events, students naturally have a lot of questions. This is why the resource sharing is an incredibly powerful tool of the GRA.


This is just discussing the reading component, but the beauty of the GRA is that it is so much more than “just” reading. Coupling it with the collaborative global aspect offers us the opportunity for students to work on writing, on speaking and listening, on the act of collaboration itself, as well as meaningful technology integration. It allows us to focus on building an understanding of others, of developing empathy and activism. This is at the center of what great 21st-century learning looks like; providing authentic and meaningful ways to engage in a worldwide dialogue around relevant topics.


And for the teachers involved, it allows for new tools to be introduced, new connections to be forged that will bolster their teaching, as well as a meaningful way to dive into literacy that will model what literacy experiences should look like.


But don’t just take my word on it. I asked educators who have done the GRA to share how they integrated the project into their curriculum and here is what they said.


My district encourages the SAMR model for technology integration. Using technology to share ideas and collaborate with students from other parts of the country/world is a task that falls under the highest level of the SAMR model.


I use FlipGrid as a way to respond to the text while assessing speaking and listening standards, come to discussions prepared and adding to the discussion. I also assess postcards for adding media to support text. In addition to literacy, GRA really fits into our S.S. theme of world regions and cultures.


GRA works across all levels, promotes excellent collaboration, learning styles, communication, technology integration and global connections. The teacher has the flexibility to incorporate using standards/skills that he/she sees fit. I’ve shared about it only positively.


Refugee was a huge addition to my 7/8 curriculum last fall, and I’d wager that it was an experience that would be at the top of the list for what kids will remember from my class. We use a workshop model, largely, and so the chapters would be built in as model texts for minilessons in reading and writing workshop. We’d do quickwrites about character development, inferences, vocabulary in context, to name a few . . . Most important to me, however, was just the chance to share a terrific story and know it was also happening in classrooms around the world – so powerful!


We were asked this year to use a read aloud to model fluency and what a reader is thinking while they read. Our 6th graders seem to think letting the words pass through the eyeballs without going to the brain is sufficient, and we are trying to change that perception. Two of us could attest to its effectiveness due to GRA. We did Refugee this year and it opened up all sorts of thinking and discussion.


At the end of Refugee, I had them create one pagers, and I met individually to discuss questions related to the book and standards. For instance, what was the theme, how do you know, how did it develop through the story. What was your favorite scene and why was it important to the whole story. Really just took a look at State standards and created questions. Then, we followed up with self-selected research topics related to the story. Also, brought in non-fiction pairings to add to depth of topics.


It’s the epitome of 21st century skills – the kids have to communicate and collaborate with others around the world; they think critically about meaningful issues that impact their peers; they come up with creative projects and responses. They’re also highly engaged with a great text.all great things!! 


It lends itself SO well to standards and curriculum!! I teach 1-2 on a loop and did A Boy Called Bat and before that the BFG! Asks and answers questions for sure, technology (connecting with other classes), social studies and map skills (finding new friends on the map)….not to mention that they LOVE reading and get interested in authors and their other books!!!


I teach in South Africa and participated in GRA for the first time last year. It was the highlight of the year. Our school year starts in Jan and my present class have a countdown going for when they can start GRA. I integrated Refugee into all subjects I teach. The book became real and even more so with the global connections and sharing we made. 21st Century teaching is all about communication, collaboration and creative thinking. This is exactly what GRA does.


It is so important that students learn of different cultures in our ever changing world. We use the Lucy Calkin’s UOS for our literacy block. We read the book aloud as the read aloud time for the day and it reinforced the skills being taught in the workshop that dealt with social issues. We also hit so many listening and speaking goals by connecting through Flip Grid and Google Hangouts with a global audience for both. We learned about author’s trade through our weekly videos we watched made by the author. We wrote authentically with sharing our thoughts on Padlet and posting on social media under the guidance of our teachers and me the librarian. We gained knowledge and empathy for what people in other cultures across the world might experience through hyperdocs created by educators to be used to help us learn vocabulary and history about the culture of the people in the books we shared.


I’ve been able to integrate the picture books into the standards we’re teaching during that time. Since it’s so close to the beginning of the year, it’s your basic story elements.


And so, much like I have said before; why take the time to do the GRA? Global collaboration is necessary to show students that they are part of something bigger than them. That the world needs to be protected and that we need to care for all people. You can show them pictures of kids in other countries but why not have them speak to each other? Then the caring can begin.


To sign up for this year’s incredible project, go here. It kicks off September 30th!

Global Read Aloud Choices 2019 #GRA19

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Global Read Aloud.  It is hard to believe that what started as such a small idea has grown into a truly global literacy initiative that has connected millions of kids throughout the year.  It is hard to believe that it has been ten years already.

Yesterday, I was asked what the Global Read Aloud means to me and I will admit, it was hard to answer the question.  Because in its truest form, the GRA is an invitation into a world that we can share together.  An invitation into a story that will shape our experience, that will help us speak books with one another in order for us to understand each other better.  Every year I see the connections being made and think of each of them as a small chip in the many walls that seem to surround us around the world, I see it as one more step toward a more empathetic, understanding, and activist society.

And so the books are at the center of it all which puts a lot of pressure on the selection of the texts.  Hitting publish on this post will once again mean me holding my breath, waiting for the reaction to unfold worldwide.  And yet, it also means that perhaps these books will change the way we think, the way we teach.  That these books and the creators behind them will become part of the language of books that we speak with our students.  I cannot wait for that to happen.

The books chosen this year were once again a combination of the winners of the voting rounds and my own selection.

So, starting on September 30th, what will we be reading aloud?

Picture book study


The work of Yuyi Morales – creator extraordinaire.  Every time I pick up a book shaped in some way by Yuyi, it takes my breath away.  The scope of her work means that we not only get to t revel in the beauty of her art but also marvel at the stories she shares.

1st week:

Dreamers in English or Spanish

2nd week:

Just A Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book

3rd week:

Nino Wrestles the World

4th week:

Viva Frida

5th week:

Little Night/Nochecita

6th week:  Your choice

Early Readers

Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

Stella Diaz loves marine animals, especially her betta fish, Pancho. But Stella Diaz is not a betta fish. Betta fish like to be alone, while Stella loves spending time with her mom and brother and her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely.

When a new boy arrives in Stella’s class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school! But she better get over her fears soon, because Stella Díaz has something to say!

Middle Grade

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

Middle School

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Young Adult

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden—but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.


There you have it; another amazing year of connecting awaits.  Read the books, share the books, and get ready for another opportunity to make the world smaller.

PS:  If you still need to sign up, please go here.

Vote now for Global Read Aloud 2019 Books #GRA19

I can’t believe that it is the 10th time I get to put out the call to vote for books.  That this little project has been around for that long.  That this year will be the tenth time, millions of kids around the world get to read a book aloud together.

Every year I am not sure that we can find books and creators as amazing as the year prior and yet here we are; another set of incredible work to choose from,

There are a few things that mark a Global Read Aloud choice:

  • It is a well-written book, that also works as a read aloud, that will garner worldwide conversations, developing empathy, understanding, and deeper compassion for others.
  • The length is manageable for 6 weeks of read aloud – this is a huge part and this is often where many amazing books don’t make the cut.
  • It has not been used before in the project.
  • It is widely accessible to people around the world.
  • I try to focus on own voices authors as well.

Voting will start today and run a week.  I am hoping to make the announcement of the chosen books and creators the first week of April.

I know there are books that I have missed, there always is, I try to read as many as I can, I also try to find as many as I can that would be great picks. I hope you love the ones in the running, I know I do.