Share the Gift of Story on World Read Aloud Day

One of my favorite read aloud memories is my mother reading the Little House on the Prairie books to me. I just adored those books. The coziness of their lives in spite of so much hardship and hard work, and the closeness of the family life always made me so happy. And my mother's voice was so calm and clear, so precise and measured. It was the perfect complement to these books, which valued the daily moments of everyday life and honored them.

During my many years as a literacy educator, I've had the privilege of witnessing the powerful yet nuanced effects of reading aloud. Like my own memories, reading aloud delivers a deep comfort for a child. In stories, they find a safe place to return to, and tools to navigate life. Books provide a risk-free environment to grapple with the world's big questions.

Reading aloud makes you and your child co-explorers. Together, you tackle a story's puzzling aspects, and wonder aloud to hypothesize answers. These practices electrify a child's relationship with literature and cultivate critical thinking. She will begin to build connections, and apply her mental dexterity to real life. When faced with adversity, she will call upon these skills, and the knowledge that any trying situation simultaneously contains a solution.

Whether or not a child acknowledges the gifts of reading aloud, he will come to understand the power of story -- its magnetic and unifying properties. Stories familiarize the foreign and allow us to confront difference with warmth and strength. We relate to one another through stories, and in a globalizing context, absorbing and accepting difference is absolutely crucial. On their own, stories hold immense power, but when used deftly, that force is unstoppable.

World Read Aloud Day, which takes place on March 6, is an opportunity for everyone to honor, and share that power. Since LitWorld launched this campaign four years ago, WRAD has spread to all 50 states and over 60 countries. The number of people around the world who cannot read or write hovers just below 800 million. There is an urgent need to invest in education to lift the veil of pre-determined outcomes that keep our world from benefiting from hundreds of millions of unlocked stories and unquantifiable potential.

It's time to take a big stand. And so, we are asking the global community to "Read It Forward." Read It Forward by reading aloud to anyone who might like it, share a book with a child who might need it, share a story with someone who would treasure it, listen to someone else's as they share with you: give the gift of story magic away in any way you can.

When you participate in World Read Aloud Day on March 6, you will be reading alongside your global brothers and sisters in New York City, Port-au-Prince, Nairobi, Manila, Huanchaco, Pristina, Kumasi and many more cities -- celebrating the power of shared words, and the human right of literacy that belongs to all people.