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From World Read Aloud Day to #Read4Luv, Rochesterians celebrate the power of reading

Various children are sitting in a row, books held in front of their faces
Children reading books.

Wednesday marked World Read Aloud Day, but some are celebrating the power of reading all month long

Students and teachers gathered at the Rochester City School District’s School 33 on Wednesday morning to commemorate the 13th annual World Read Aloud Day.

“When I grow up, I hope to be an entrepreneur. I want to be my own boss,” said 6th grader Jason. “I know that reading will be an important part of my future.”

A daily practice of reading out loud with children can enhance those students’ academic achievement, Principal Melody Martinez Davis said.

“Reading Aloud offers opportunities for individuals and communities to share ideas and learn about the world. As such, it is a powerful tool for amplifying underrepresented voices in paving new pathways for global citizenship, and participation for all people.”

According to the online publication Public School Review, reading proficiency scores at RCSD were at 22% in the 2018-19 school year. The state’s average for public schools in the same academic year was 52%.

When it comes to adult literacy, the organization World Population Review states that about 78% of adults in New York state are literate. The state has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country.

For 13 years, February 2 has marked World Read Aloud Day. It’s a global initiative started by the non-profit, Lit-World, to raise awareness of everyone’s inherent right to read and share stories.

According to National Geographic, some of the earliest evidence of storytelling comes from cave drawings in France, which date back as far as 30,000 years ago.

For the month of February, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education is also promoting the love of reading.

Carol Anne St. George, director of the school’s literacy program, said while she recommends reading aloud with children every day, that might not be accessible for some families. However, she says there are other ways to engage children with words and stories.

“While you're cooking, while you're in the car, while you're walking... you can talk with your children and make stories with your children.”

Ultimately, it comes down to language development, she said.

For the month-long reading campaign, St. George said readers are encouraged to share photos of the books they are reading with children on social media using the hashtags “What I Am Reading” and “Read 4 Luv.”

From math to social studies to reading a doctor's note, St. George said, "Everything relates to literacy."

"So support for literacy learning is probably the most important gift that we can give to children," she said.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.