Children gather at a year's prior World Read Aloud Day. 

Tomorrow will mark the 11th annual World Read Aloud Day where two celebrations will take place, one in the Children’s Library at Sheppard Memorial Library at 3:30 p.m. and another at Barnes & Noble at 6 p.m.

Barnes & Noble will also be hosting an all-day READ ENC book fair fundraiser for readers to enjoy and for a portion of the profit to go back to READ ENC. Greg Needham, director of Sheppard Memorial Libraries, expresses his excitement for the event.

“We at Sheppard Library are very excited to host a World Read Aloud event again this year. Reading aloud is such a powerful positive thing for people to share with each other,” Needham said. “This event highlights out loud reading with some super leaders and reading advocates of our community. We're really looking forward to it and hope it inspires everyone to share more reading aloud.”

World Read Aloud Day started in 2010 and was founded by LitWorld to allow millions of people to celebrate reading out loud and advocate for literacy as a human right. According to LitWorld’s website, the celebration in 2019 allowed for #WorldReadAloudDay to be one of the top hashtags on Twitter and was celebrated by people in over 170 countries. It also allowed many famous celebrities to join in.

Kristen Gehsmann, ECU professor and chair of the Literacy Studies, English Education and History Education department, explained what the celebration means to her.

“World Read Aloud Day is a celebration of the written word and the power of stories to bring people, communities, and the world a little closer together. It is one of my most favorite days of the year,” Gehsmann said.

The events are both hosted by the Children’s Library at Sheppard Memorial Library and READ ENC, an organization promoting school success to Eastern North Carolina. Terry Atkinson, executive director of READ ENC: Community Literacy Coalition, explained the purpose of READ ENC.

“READ ENC connects with community partners who share the common goal of providing the resources and support for all Pitt County children and families so that every third grade students will read on grade level by the end of grade three,” Atkinson said.

Gehsmann also gave the advice to read aloud to children because it proves to have many benefits. A child who is read to just ten minutes a day will be exposed to more than half a million words in a year; 20 minutes a day, they’ll be exposed to well over a million words.

“Reading aloud helps improve children’s vocabulary and language development, their imagination and sense of empathy, their love of reading, and overall achievement in school. Children who are read to are more likely to read themselves. If you want to raise a reader and strengthen family bonds, consider reading together each day,” Gehsmann Said.

The events will feature a broad range of guest readers from Greenville’s Mayor PJ Connelly professors from ECU and even some Pitt County sheriffs among others.

“All ECU College of Education undergraduate students have been invited to attend this year’s two community celebrations... ECU students who are serving as interns in the Pitt County Schools will also be participating in school-based WRAD celebrations, such as the one at G.R. Whitfield (Elementary School) when Mayor P.J. Connelly will be a guest reader.” Atkinson said.

The events are open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend and buy books to support READ ENC in the fundraiser at Barnes and Noble.

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