Online reading resources to encourage youth literacy for International Read to Me Day
Families around the world, get ready to put on your comfy clothes and snuggle up with a good book, because Sunday, March 19, is International Read to Me Day(Opens in a new tab).
The worldwide literacy development campaign is sandwiched between February’s World Read Aloud Day(Opens in a new tab), supported by nonprofit LitWorld(Opens in a new tab) and sponsored by Scholastic(Opens in a new tab), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) International Literacy Day(Opens in a new tab), officially recognized on Sept. 8. Each is a large-scale initiative that aims to reduce global illiteracy and promote empowering learning environments for developing children.
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Credit: Vaughan Duck / International Read to Me Day
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Credit: Yvonne Mes / International Read to Me Day
Since relaunching the campaign in 2021, International Read to Me Day has become a year-round, 24/7 effort to provide reading opportunities and physical books to the global community. The organization assembles groups of volunteer “Reading Champions(Opens in a new tab)” who help in its mission to read to 1 million children each year.
Early access to language and reading is crucial to childhood development(Opens in a new tab) and the development of later literacy(Opens in a new tab). Nationwide, a significant decline in 2022 reading scores(Opens in a new tab) on NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) tests speaks to a need for broad and equitable access to literacy support.
‘Frybread Face and Me’ serves up heartwarming Indigenous coming-of-age representation
“Literacy is a key component of the fundamental right to education and a critical foundation for independent learning,” UNESCO wrote in its 2022 International Literacy Day paper(Opens in a new tab). “Literacy and numeracy have to play an essential role in building more peaceful, just, inclusive, and sustainable societies and in addressing global challenges.”
Digital resources can help bridge gaps in access and support families and educators alike in building a strong literacy foundation for readers at all levels. Mashable’s rounded up several online resources to help foster enthusiasm for reading through interactive reading opportunities and comprehension skills, including free read-along videos, at-home lessons, and other ways to read aloud with your child.
A leader in free educational content for the public, PBS is a one-stop shop for literacy resources for educators, parents, and kids.
Reading Rainbow(Opens in a new tab)
Millennials probably remember Reading Rainbow, the PBS original hosted by Levar Burton that brought interactive stories to the screen for families around the country. You can still find original episodes of the show online, as well as accompanying reading and literacy activities(Opens in a new tab).
It’s also streaming on Amazon Prime(Opens in a new tab).
PBS KIDS YouTube(Opens in a new tab)
PBS KIDS posts free episodes of shows including reading-focused SUPER WHY!(Opens in a new tab) (catch them airing live all day long) and read-along videos(Opens in a new tab) on its YouTube page, as well.
LearningMedia(Opens in a new tab)
The main page for PBS learning resources is LearningMedia, which publishes free resources for educators across all K-12 subjects, including Social Studies(Opens in a new tab), English Language Arts, and the Arts(Opens in a new tab). You’ll find educational videos, interactive lessons and lesson plans, and other multimedia activities.
Head to the English Language Arts and Literacy page(Opens in a new tab) for foundational lessons(Opens in a new tab) on phonics, sentence construction, and reading comprehension. The Literature(Opens in a new tab) page hosts a collection of videos, plot summaries, and excerpts to practice spotting main ideas, character studies, and literary techniques.
PBS KIDS for Parents(Opens in a new tab)
PBS KIDS’ parent-oriented web page publishes activities and learning advice(Opens in a new tab) for building strong readership in kids ages 2-8 years old. The page also directs caregivers to resources tied to PBS shows that focus on building a strong vocabulary and literacy foundation, like the generational classic Sesame Street and Word Girl(Opens in a new tab).
As the organization writes, “The most powerful ways to develop children’s literacy skills are also the simplest: talk to them, listen to them, read to them and write with them.”
Publishing house and youth education resource Scholastic fosters greater at-home reading through online resources and reading opportunities, as well as its Raise a Reader blog(Opens in a new tab) for caregivers.
Scholastic Parents(Opens in a new tab)
Scholastic’s Parents website, a quick stop offering suggested readings and tips for growing young readers, publishes online read-aloud guides for caregivers(Opens in a new tab), reading resources and tips(Opens in a new tab), and printable activities(Opens in a new tab).
Storyvoice app(Opens in a new tab)
Storyvoice is Scholastic’s live read-along app for grades K-5, which brings together popular children’s books authors and illustrators, reading advocates, and kids themselves to read aloud, dance, and enjoy popular stories. Each week, families can tune in to hear a live reading(Opens in a new tab), interact with the day’s host, and watch the previous session’s recordings.
The free app is available for desktop viewing(Opens in a new tab) and is downloadable on the App Store(Opens in a new tab) and Google Play(Opens in a new tab).
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Reading Is Fundamental
Reading is Fundamental(Opens in a new tab) is a nonprofit literacy organization that runs several programs and grant partnerships with the goal of fostering greater reading at home, in classrooms, and in communities.
On the Reading is Fundamental website(Opens in a new tab), you can find free printable reading passages(Opens in a new tab), author interviews(Opens in a new tab), searchable book lists(Opens in a new tab), and a library of read-aloud videos(Opens in a new tab). The site also runs a calendar, “Daily Book Bites,”(Opens in a new tab) which recommends a different book each day of the week, and shares tools like reading incentive charts(Opens in a new tab) and literacy trackers(Opens in a new tab).
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Each month, the organization selects a specific reading theme and hosts a live read-along event(Opens in a new tab), accompanied by additional reading resources like book activities(Opens in a new tab), games(Opens in a new tab), and recommendations(Opens in a new tab).
Storyline Online(Opens in a new tab) was created by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Foundation(Opens in a new tab) and features dozens of read-along videos(Opens in a new tab) hosted by celebrities and creatives. Its read-along video library is cited by other literacy groups, like LitWorld, and the organization accompanies each video with supplemental curriculum support developed by elementary educators. The goal of Storyline Online’s videos is to encourage and strengthen reading comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners, the site explains.
Check out videos like actor Kiernan Shipka reading The House That Jane Built(Opens in a new tab) or Emmy-winner Sheryl Lee Ralph reading Jabari Jumps(Opens in a new tab).
If you have a Netflix subscription, consider popping on its original show Bookmarks(Opens in a new tab) for an easy read-aloud activity with your kids. The show, which premiered in 2020, was created as both an educational and empathy-building exercise, focused on stories that spark kid-friendly discussion of equality and anti-racism. Each of the 12 episodes features a well-known Black celebrity reading a children’s book written by a Black author, like Lupita Nyong’o reading her own book, Sulwe.
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Vooks(Opens in a new tab) turns children’s books into interactive read-along videos featuring engaging animations, music, and voiceovers to encourage ad-free viewing and a 20-minutes-each-day literacy plan for kids, parents, and even teachers. The website offers a selection of free videos(Opens in a new tab), as well as subscription plans(Opens in a new tab) to unlock more content. Teachers can sign up for free(Opens in a new tab) to access a full range of Vooks read-alongs.
Find additional resources(Opens in a new tab), like writing routines(Opens in a new tab), classroom resources(Opens in a new tab), and printable activity sheets(Opens in a new tab), on the Vooks website.
YouTube reading channels
YouTube is full of free read-along accounts that post an array of books shared by a community of online readers.
Black Dad Reading(Opens in a new tab)
The Black Dad Reading channel is hosted by “Mr. Calloway” and was created in part to show a positive male figure for young viewers. The page describes itself as wanting to share diverse stories with readers of all levels.
Dixy’s Storytime World(Opens in a new tab)
This brightly-colored channel posts daily read-aloud videos of children’s books, complete with calming narration and original illustrations. The videos are intended to feel like part of a nightly bedtime routine and veer away from 3D animations and loud noises.
Reading Is(Opens in a new tab)
Another narration-based YouTube channel, Reading Is posts weekly animated read-aloud videos of popular and classic children’s books, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Kissing Hand.
The Gracie Series(Opens in a new tab)
Based on The Gracie Series(Opens in a new tab) by Dr. Grace LaJoy Henderson, this channel shares free audiobook and read-aloud versions of the autobiographical children’s stories, in an effort to foster a “love of reading and learning in preschool and elementary students.” Each video is accompanied by discussion questions for viewers following along.
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