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Anita's Picks for World Read Aloud Day

by Anita Silvey
February 8, 2012
This year, we celebrate World Read Aloud Day on March 7th. This relatively new holiday gives those in the classroom a time to emphasize both the joy of reading aloud and of discovering different cultures and worlds.

For World Read Aloud Day on the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac, I recommend the books of German writer Cornelia Funke. Both THE THIEF LORD or INKHEART (see below) make perfect choices for reading aloud.

Here are some others to share next month—and throughout the year.

Austria

THE STAR OF KAZAN by Eva Ibbotson

“Set in Vienna, Austria, in the early 1900s, Ibbotson pays tribute to her native city in this book. A love of all things Viennese—from the beauty and richness of the city to its exquisite pastries—permeates the narrative.”

Canada

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY by Sheila Burnford

"Fifty years ago, in 1961, a book appeared that celebrates the bond between humans and their pets—Sheila Burnford’s THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. In this story, ideal for seven- to twelve-year-olds, three pets—an old bull terrier, a Siamese cat, and a young Labrador retriever—attempt a treacherous 250 mile journey through the Canadian wilderness.”

China

WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin

"WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON stands as good a chance of becoming a classic as any book in this time period. A Newbery Honor book that adults and children adore, the story works for independent reading or for reading aloud in both families and second through sixth grade classrooms. It is a particularly good choice for sharing because the short chapters, filled with action and lyrical language, can be enjoyed just one or a few at a time. Wherever you end the narrative, young readers want it picked up again." [You can see our recent Putting Books to Work feature on this title here.]

Denmark

NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry

"Each chapter has been beautifully crafted; each moves the story along. From the first moments when Annemarie encounters Nazi soldiers to the final page when Denmark has been freed, readers stay with her, cheer her on, and hope that she makes the right choices. The life of her best friend rests on the thin shoulders of this child. Ultimately, NUMBER THE STARS explores the issue of taking political action, even if to do so might mean death."

Egypt

THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS by R.L. LaFevers

"In a story that begins on December 17, 1906, eleven-year-old Theodosia introduces readers to her rather unusual living arrangements. Her father oversees the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, and her mother frequently travels by herself to Egypt to bring back artifacts for this London establishment… A plucky, clever heroine, fascinating material, and page-turning plot all help make THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS delightful for the ten to fourteen set. Even if it doesn’t convince them to become archaeologists, it will make them believe that reading can be fun and exciting and entertaining."

England

SHAKESPEARE STEALER by Gary Blackwood

"Methinks the best book about Shakespeare, for nine- to fourteen-year-olds, to be Gary Blackwood’s THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER, published in 1998. Blackwood knows how to capture all of the excitement, villainy, emotion, and action of a Shakespeare play… With great scenes of swordplay, chases, and duels, THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER brings the world of Elizabethan theater and the street life of London alive for young readers."

Fantasy Landscape

MY FATHER’S DRAGON by Ruth Stiles Gannett

"In MY FATHER’S DRAGON by Ruth Stiles Gannett, nine-year-old Elmer Elevator travels a long distance to Wild Island to save a baby dragon. After stowing items he may need in a backpack (a lollipop, hair ribbons, rubber bands, a toothbrush, and chewing gum), Elmer must outwit a tiger, gorilla, and crocodiles before he completes his quest. In fact, he needs every item he has carried with him."

Greece/Greek Myths

THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan

"An inventive plot, engaging characters, non-stop action, and an unpredictable ending have helped make the stories of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan some of the most beloved reading for ten- to fourteen-year-olds in the last few years. Riordan was just voted author of the year [for 2011] in the Children’s Choice Book Awards administered by the Children’s Book Council. And as young readers devour Percy’s saga, they also learn a lot about Greek Mythology."

Italy

THE THIEF LORD by Cornelia Funke

"In the THE THIEF LORD, the first novel by German author Cornelia Funke translated into English, the canals, the streets, the abandoned buildings, and the small islands outside of Venice provide an amazing setting for a gripping novel.... Teachers have used this book successfully as a read-aloud for third through sixth grades; readers ages ten to adult have loved it for independent reading."

INKHEART

"Funke sets scenes and creates atmosphere brilliantly. All the chapters are just the right length for reading aloud; they contain a lot of action, cliff-hanging endings, and beautiful language. The book has been perfect for use with nine- through fourteen-year-olds, in class or at home. Reading this book slowly, savoring the scenes and the details of the plot, actually makes it more enjoyable than reading it independently.

Japan

SADAKO AND THE THOUSAND PAPER CRANES by Eleanor Coerr

"The classic SADAKO AND THE THOUSAND PAPER CRANES was published in 1977, shortly after the end of the Vietnam War. Like so many other authors of historical fiction for children, Eleanor Coerr chose the time period of another conflict, World War II in the Pacific, to deliver her thoughts about the effects of war on children and her message of peace."

United States

THE PENDERWICKS by Jeanne Birdsall

"Meet the Penderwicks. As the subtitle states, this is A SUMMER TALE OF FOUR SISTERS, TWO RABBITS, AND A VERY INTERESTING BOY. Having lost their mother to cancer, the four Penderwick sisters work together and support their father, an absent-minded but loving, botanist. Because their vacation reservations on Cape Cod fell through, they take a chance on a cottage in the Berkshires and find that it’s located on the grounds of the Arundel estate, a seemingly magical place with an evil owner and her very attractive son Jeffrey."

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart

"With lots of twists, turns, puzzles, even Morse codes, the book engages readers’ minds. It does not merely serve up escapist reading, although the over-five-hundred-page book certainly provides many hours of entertaining adventure. The book explores larger issues like the power of the media and the need for teamwork in overcoming obstacles.

In this book for ten- to sixteen-year-olds, the happy ending satisfies but still leaves room for sequels. The children seem quite vulnerable and real—not superheroes or heroines, but children who have their share of problems. They use ropes and marbles to solve dilemmas, not magic swords."

Find even more read-aloud resources on ReadWriteThink. This strategy guide is a great place to start.


© 2012 Anita Silvey. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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