This article appeared in the March 19, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Live from living rooms, the comfort of reading aloud

Mike Lewis/The Herald-Mail/AP
Evony Lloyd of Hagerstown, Maryland, reads to her 3-year-old daughter, Dalonie, during the kickoff for the 21-Day Read Aloud Challenge, March 2, 2020. The challenge encourages parents to read to their children for 15 minutes every day for 21 days.
Kim Campbell
Culture & Education Editor

When was the last time you read a book out loud? Or had one read to you?

A staple of grade school classrooms, the read aloud is taking on a new role: balm in a crisis. 

Online hashtag campaigns #OperationStorytime and #savewithstories are in full swing this week, featuring celebrities and authors reading from their couches and dens. They are bringing attention to out-of-school students who need food, or choosing on their own to comfort people of all ages during a troubling time. 

“I’m gonna read to you and your children, or just you, depending on what you prefer,” said Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf in the “Frozen” movies, before launching into the book “Olivia Goes to Venice,” on Friday. He now reads nightly on social media, calling his effort, viewed by hundreds of thousands, the #GadBookClub.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017, we reported on a Facebook book club started by a teacher wanting to offer a distraction to displaced kids. Toddlers and teachers, fourth graders and authors all came to the group to record themselves reading favorites from their shelves.

Read alouds will become even more common in the coming months, as teachers increasingly use them (with permission from publishers) in virtual classrooms and turn to authors as resources. But as Mr. Gad alluded to, the calm and connection that comes from being read to isn’t just for kids. It’s for everybody.  

Be sure to scroll to the end of today’s Daily edition. We wanted to share a snapshot of our morning meeting, with staff around the world convening by video. We found it buoying, and hope you will as well.

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This article appeared in the March 19, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 03/19 edition