READ TO ME FOUNDATION
When people have an alphabet
that allows them to read
Founder: William Cameron Townsend envisioned the museum when he traveled to Guatemala in 1917 to sell Spanish bibles.
When he noticed that most people didn't speak Spanish, he created an alphabet for them, and in 10 years translated the New Testament in a way they could understand.
Townsend helped people in other countries, too, and today his legacy continues.
Watch the video for more fascinating information
The Importance Of Reading Aloud For All Children
Reba M. Wadsworth, Retired Elementary Principal
Today I am an educator because of a dedicated third grade teacher who read aloud to me daily with passion and persistence. Each day she drew us to her feet (a most uncommon practice for that time in the 1950’s) and filled the air with her words from The Boxcar Children. As those words opened my world to include four homeless children, they instilled in me a love of reading that has taken me on a journey from a third grader with no school library and few books at home to a Ph.D in Educational Leadership. Reading aloud can make a difference in the lives of young children! Today I am an educator because of a dedicated third grade teacher who read aloud to me daily with passion and persistence. Each day she drew us to her feet (a most uncommon practice for that time in the 1950’s) and filled the air with her words from The Boxcar Children. As those words opened my world to include four homeless children, they instilled in me a love of reading that has taken me on a journey from a third grader with no school library and few books at home to a Ph.D in Educational Leadership. Reading aloud can make a difference in the lives of young children! Today I am an educator because of a dedicated third grade teacher who read aloud to me daily with passion and persistence. Each day she drew us to her feet (a most uncommon practice for that time in the 1950’s) and filled the air with her words from The Boxcar Children. As those words opened my world to include four homeless children, they instilled in me a love of reading that has taken me on a journey from a third grader with no school library and few books at home to a Ph.D in Educational Leadership. Reading aloud can make a difference in the lives of young children!
Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society
Widespread illiteracy not only leads to lower education and employment rates, it is also linked to increased crime and incarceration and a high social and economic cost. Read on to learn more about the terrible effects of illiteracy on society and what you can do to help.What is Illiteracy?Most people think of literacy as a simple question of being able to read. But while a young child who can work her way through a basic picture book is considered to have age-appropriate literacy levels, an adult who can only read at the most fundamental level is still functionally illiterate.The world requires that adults not only be able to read and understand basic texts, but also be able to function in the workplace, pay bills, understand legal and financial documents and navigate technology - not to mention the advanced reading comprehension skills required to pursue postsecondary education and the opportunities that come with it.As a result, when we talk about the effects of illiteracy on society, we're talking primarily about what happens when you have a large number of adults whose literacy skills are too low to perform normal, day-to-day tasks. However, it is worth keeping in mind that childhood illiteracy is, of course, directly correlated to adult illiteracy.Illiteracy Around the WorldIn 2003, the United Nations launched the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD) with the slogan, 'Literacy is freedom.' Operating under the premise that 'literacy is a human right,' the initiative aims to improve literacy efforts, increase global literacy levels and reduce poverty.According to the UNLD:
- Worldwide, one in five adults cannot read or write
- In low-income countries, only about 61% of adults are literate
- In high-income countries, almost 99% of adults are literate
Illiteracy in the U.S.Compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. is doing well. According to the latest International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), between 19% and 23% of American adults performed at the top levels for each of the three literacy scales: document literacy, prose literacy and quantitative (number) literacy. Sweden is the only country that scored higher.Yet many Americans are being left behind. The same survey found that between 21% and 24% of U.S. adults performed at the lowest level for all three scales, a figure echoed by the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). So what effect does this have on society in the United States?Poverty & EmploymentOn average, adults at the lowest levels of literacy:
- Earn about $230-$245 per week
- Work only 18-19 weeks each year
- Are more than three times as likely to receive food stamps (17%-19% as compared to 4% of those who read at the highest levels)
- Are almost ten times more likely to be living below the poverty line (41%-44% as compared to 4%-8%)
- Between 31% and 40% of prisoners read at the lowest literacy level, which is at least ten percentage points worse than the national average
- Only four percent to seven percent of the prison population reads at the highest two literacy levels, compared to 18% to 21% of the rest of the population
As the above statistics show, illiteracy can be closely correlated with low earnings and high incarceration rates. Individuals who cannot read struggle to function in society, which can cripple their lives and increase the burden on state prisons and economic support systems.
How You Can Help
Although illiteracy seems like an overwhelming problem, there are many things that individuals can do to help.
*You can help prevent illiteracy by becoming a tutor at a nearby school or going to a poor neighborhood and offering literacy support at a local school or community center.
*You can also help adults overcome literacy challenges by volunteering at an adult basic education center where you can teach adults to read and help them with basic life skills.Individuals who want to spend more time working on this issue may consider getting involved with a national organization like AmeriCorps. Students who would like to devote themselves to fighting illiteracy may be interested in degrees in education, public administration or social work.
*You can view statistics from the UNLD, IALS and NALS via UNESCO (www.unesco.org), the National Center for Education Statistics (www.nces.ed.gov) and the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov).
SEATTLE BOOK EXAMINER
- Start with a connection to the book. Tell the audience that this is one of your favorite books. When you tell kids that you love a book, you set a great example and provide incentive for them to listen. This also fosters a culture of shared literary experiences.
- Point out illustrations. Making connections between text and illustrations helps children develop their reading (and listening) comprehension. Listeners take clues from pictures, identify with characters, and even use illustrations as starting points for their own visualization. Illustrations can help children identify with books, understand humor, and make inferences about character and plot.
- Pause for audience participation. Letting listeners jump in with repeated and favorite phrases encourages active reading skills. Listeners who recognize patterns and anticipate are involved in the story.
- Make Sound effects. Help the listeners immerse themselves in the world of the book. The book comes to life when we can imagine through sound. Plus, we can all appreciate the self-confidence and sense of humor it takes to play along.
- Act it out. This is another wonderful way to help kids understand a book and make it more relatable. Gestures, voices, and action also keep attention from wandering.
- Encourage the audience to act like the characters. When kids do something the character in the book does, they feel empowered and connected to the book.
- Contextualize and reassure. Because reading aloud makes stories so vivid, it is important to acknowledge kids’ reactions to books. Discussing books and our response to them helps build a community of readers and thinkers. After a rousing “The End,” it is good to reflect on the story together. In smaller groups, listeners may want to revisit their favorite parts or talk about how they feel. In bigger groups, it is especially important to be sensitive to the readers’ nonverbal reactions.
HINTS for READING OUT LOUD
(with love from Madame Esmé)
1. Love the book yourself before you read it to the children.
Read it all through yourself before introducing it. Don't share a book you think is boring, because the kids can tell. There are too many wonderful books available, select one you both will enjoy.
2. Choose a book that lends itself to reading out loud.
Unless you are dramatically gifted, books with lots of dialogue are tricky. Also, books with lots of introspection are sometimes more fun to read alone. Save these for one-on-one recommendations.
3. Be versatile in your approach.
You read to them. Or, they read to you, in turns. Or, you read to them, but they all read along with their own copies. Or you read a page, they read a page. Or...what else?
4. Make read aloud time special.
Gather around. Turn off the lights, turn on a cozy lamp. Flop on pillows. Be comfortable, but intimate. Read aloud time is classroom family time.
5. Read with expression.
Listen to yourself on a tape recorder. Can your presentation be improved with dramatic pauses? Louder or softer speech? Funny voices? Don't be shy. They won't remember that you sounded silly. They'll remember an interesting book.
6. Don't over evaluate.
The more you formally test and check, the more you kill the affective gain. Assess comprehension throughout with questioning and authentic assessments (journaling, art projects, etc.)
7. Read aloud every day.
You and your students both deserve it. Consider it your intellectual vitamin. Read from a novel, the newspaper, a poem, a diary, a play...
8. Leave them asking for more.
Leave them groaning at a cliffhanger. Laughing at a joke. Crying along. Then say, "more tomorrow."And then...deliver!