Read Aloud to a Child Week 2021 Theme Contest

Every year during the last week of October, Read to Them hosts Read Aloud to a Child Week, a national event meant to showcase the importance of reading aloud to children and to encourage families to read together. Usually the theme for this event is selected by Read to Them staff, but for this year, we’re bringing you the opportunity to select the theme yourself. 

For over 20 years, Read Aloud to a Child Week has been a stress-free way to engage with the literacy community. It truly is as simple as picking up a book and reading aloud as a family! And with Read to Them curating book lists for picture and chapter books, it’s even easier to dive into stories that enrich the selected theme.  

The Read Aloud to a Child Week theme for 2020 was “Let Your Voice Be Heard” which highlighted titles about preserving the environment, voting, identity, bullying, and the power of speaking up. Given the turbulent year behind us, it felt fitting to shine a light on silver-linings and the pillars of strength that kept our communities functioning amid strife and struggle.

Below are the four potential themes and their descriptions:

  • Diversity— Encourage your children to practice and understand the value of being inclusive. Finding books that mirror your children’s experiences can break down walls and offer sliding doors for them to step into worlds both similar and different from their own. By celebrating different cultures, languages, genders, ethnicities, and social backgrounds, you can look at your reflection to appreciate what makes you unique in this world.
  • Community Helpers— Medical professionals, teachers, mail carriers, firefighters and librarians are the backbone of communities everywhere. The contributions, sacrifice, and resilience of these community helpers have made all of our lives a little easier over the course of this difficult year.  Find and settle in with stories that celebrate the strength of these irreplaceable pillars in your community.  It’s a perfect way to help your children discover an even deeper appreciation for each of their services.  
  • Coming Together— The new normal of the last year has involved social distancing and staying connected through screens, making it all the more important to find ways to build bridges and make connections.  Find and stories that heal.  Explore stories that build community and togetherness.  Delve into stories that connect and can unite us all.
  • Gratitude Select gratitude and you’ll be encouraged to reflect on the positive parts of your everyday life— the little things, the vital things— that bring you joy. Discover stories that celebrate being thankful for the big, the small, and the in-between. This theme will present you with the opportunity to ask children: Who are you grateful for? Where do you find the light when the world feels dark?

You have until Friday, June 26th to cast your vote for this year’s theme, so don’t delay! You can find the poll on the Read Aloud to a Child Week program page. Be sure to follow Read to Them on Facebook for more information and 2021’s theme reveal as the event draws nearer. 

Happy reading!

Cobb Imprint Sponsors Virginia School for a Third Year

Students at Crestview Elementary in Henrico, Virginia took part in the Virginia Reads One Book program this past March. They, along with 50 other elementary schools across the state, dove into the timeless pages of E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan. However, their participation in the program would not have been possible without Cobb Imprint’s support.

Cobb Imprint, the charitable arm of Cobb Technologies, has served as a Read to Them partner since 2019. With their goal to help children in their communities meet and exceed their education potential, Cobb Imprint was eager to aid Crestview Elementary in nurturing its culture of literacy. 

Noah Maphis, Director of Community Outreach at Cobb Technologies, explains that Cobb Imprint’s mission consists of three pillars.

“Promoting food and housing security, promoting wellness, and promoting education and literacy,” Maphis says. She goes on to add that, in their six years of serving communities, Cobb Imprint made a vital observation: “We have learned how important it is for children to have strong literacy skills from an early age.” 

Thanks to the generous donations from Cobb Imprint, Crestview Elementary has participated in three reading events between 2019 and 2021. 

Cobb Imprint works with Read to Them to ensure each student and staff member at Crestview Elementary receives a copy of their selected title, Maphis claims the community support does not end with a donation. 

“We get books out to the community in various ways,” she says. “By partnering with local schools to send students home with “book bags”, setting up reading libraries in after school programs, and providing other local organizations with book donations – such as Read to Them with their One School, One Book program.” 

Maphis is, above all, pleased to note that with every year and every read, participation at Crestview Elementary only grows.

“I know the program not only stimulates the students from an academic standpoint but gives them a sense of community with their peers and the school staff- which is invaluable. We are so honored that we can be a part of that bonding experience.” 

Looking ahead, Maphis hopes she and other members of the Cobb Technologies team can visit Crestview Elementary. All parties are eager to be in a place where books can be distributed in-person and volunteers can read with students again.

Edward C. Killin and One School, One Book: Nine Years Strong

In a year of uncertainty, Edward C. Killin Elementary teachers knew one thing for sure — they would make sure students and staff would be able to participate in a One School, One Book event. Since the fall of 2012, OSOB has been a staple to the school’s curriculum. Thanks to a bit of pandemic-era ingenuity, E. C. Killin was able to launch their ninth event this past October.

A 2012 article shows E. C. Killin’s long-term dedication to encourage literacy

C. Killin is located on the Foster Marine Base in Okinawa, Japan. With an ever-shifting population, the school boasts between 400 and 600 students at a time.

“Every year we have some new families to our school that send the principal letters about how much they enjoy this program,” says Marti Fisk, the literary support specialist at E. C. Killin. “Families that have been at our school for awhile always ask when we’ll be doing the next OSOB and they look forward to what our next book will be.  Our Parent Teacher Organization purchases books for the school and puts this program as a top priority in their budget.  The parents that are on the board for the PTO always compliment the program and look forward to continuing to support it.” 

Given E. C. Killin’s location in Japan, students attend a Japanese Language course once a week. To further enhance this piece of student’s schedules, Fisk says that: 

In 2012-13, students at E.C. Killin read Frindle in Japanese

“One year we purchased copies of our OSOB title in Japanese so that our Japanese teacher could read parts aloud to the students in her class. We thought that was a really special experience.”

For their ninth OSOB event, students spent time with the cast of E.B. Whites’ The Trumpet of the Swan. A Marine from the base visited the school to play taps and reveille among other songs on a trumpet just like Louis the swan when he worked as a summer camp bugler. 

“We created an internet link to our program that allows parents to access the calendar, questions, more about the author, tips for reading aloud, and information on why reading aloud is important,” Fisk says of their most recent event. To get students involved, “we had our student ambassadors take turns reading the announcements for the month. They read the question, the answer and the chapters that are assigned for that night.  They also deliver prizes to the winners” who answer the questions correctly. 

A sampling of E.C. Killin’s the most recent OSOB titles

In the time of Covid, though, the thing that Fisk loves the most is how the OSOB titles they’ve selected serve as “great books to use when you’re making connections. It helps us to have at least one piece of the same schema.” 

One thing that Fisk has done to ensure excitement for OSOB continues throughout the year is keep a bulletin board with posters of the nine previous books E. C. Killin has been read. 

“Just this year I heard a student ask his friend if he remembers the book from last year when he saw the board. He was talking about how much he loved that book.” Fisk adds that students frequently talk about how much they loved participating in OSOB, because they had the opportunity to “really dig deep into the book by having done it at home and at school and talking about it throughout the month.”

For Fisk, the most crucial benefit OSOB provides is actually quite simple. The program enables and encourages families to create valuable family time through the act of reading aloud together. To E. C. Killin, reading at home is considered important and expected, and after having participated in OSOB, families have shared that they continue to read aloud at home throughout the school year. 

“The time invested into this program is so worth it,” Fisk says. “Especially since it reaches the whole school, not just a couple students or a couple of families.”