Thinking of those for whom reading and writing is not a reality…

Do you know what it is to not be able to read and write? Many of you may answer in the negative. But stop and think about it for a minute.

What would you miss most if you were unable to read and write?

We take for granted our ability to read and write yet there are millions of people (adults and children) around the world who are unable to read and write.

“Across the globe nearly 171 million children could be lifted out of poverty if they left school with basic reading and writing skills. Quality literacy education is the difference between life and death, prosperity and despair. This is literacy for survival.” (source)

To make the world aware of this, World Read Aloud Day (March 9, 2011) was started by LitWorld. It is a pledge to read 774 million minutes in support of the 774 million people around the world who cannot read or write.


Between now and March 9 celebrate the power of words by:

  1. Reading aloud to those children around you; at home, in the classroom, at weekend school or the community centre (create more excitement by logging the minutes spent reading – see Reading Tally sheet). Or host a read-a-thon.
  2. Making a donation to a charity, especially one that support education
  3. Using social media to promote awareness, get others to read-aloud and to think about what it means to be able to read and write 
  4. Adding the World Read Aloud Day button to your website or blog and put up a flyer (see here)
  5. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with your family and friends about what it means to be literate, ask students to write about it in class etc. (More ideas for activities can be found here.)

So, what would you miss most if you could not read or write?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts and feelings in the comments below!


Do’s and Don’ts of Reading Aloud

Recently, I recommended The Read-Aloud Handbook as a great resource for parents and teachers. It not only gives extensive evidence for the practice of reading aloud to children int he home and classroom but also provides some great tips for doing so. Below is an excerpt of a few of the do’s and don’ts of read-aloud that might interest you (taken from Chapter 4 of The Read-Aloud Handbook  (5th edition): 


Here is a sample of some of the Do’s:

  • Occasionally read above children’s intellectual levels and challenge their minds.
  • Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story. If it’s a novel, begin by asking what happened when you left off yesterday.
  • Mood is an important factor in listening. An authoritarian “Now stop that and settle down! Sit up straight. Pay attention” doesn’t create a receptive atmosphere.
  • Allow time for class and home discussion after reading a story. Thoughts, hopes, fears and discoveries are aroused by a book.



Teacher reading aloud to class Flickr CC
photo source: Old Shoe Woman (Flickr – Creative Commons)


Here is a sample of some of the Don’t’s:

  • Don’t read above a child’s emotional level. Don’t overwhelm your listener – consider the intellectual, social and emotional level of your audience when making a read-aloud selection.
  • If you are a teacher, don’t feel you have to tie every book to class work. Don’t confine the broad spectrum of literature to the narrow limits of the curriculum.
  • In choosing novels for reading aloud, avoid books that are heavy with dialogue; they are difficult reading aloud and listening.
  • Don’t use the book as a threat. As soon as your child or class sees that you’ve turned the book into a  weapon, they’ll change their attitude about books from positive to negative.


I am sure these tips will help improve your read-aloud times with your children and/or class making it an enjoyable and beneficial time for everyone.

Read-Aloud resource book


The Read-Aloud Handbook is a book you can find yourself reading over and over again, referring to it for a book suggestion or giving as a gift to someone special in your life. You see The Read-Aloud Handbook is unique. It is filled with down-to-earth advice, tips, suggestions and information about the benefits, techniques and realities of reading aloud to children. And to top it all off, the book comes filled with anecdotes and stories from real life situations, statistics and research to verify arguments.

The book also addresses the impact of television, extensive computer use and the role of libraries. In all these areas, the author clearly looks at the positive and negative sides of the issues with data and source material. 

This book is all about how to raise a reader through the simple activity of reading-aloud. 

Some features of the book I found valuable are:

– The “Treasury of Read-Alouds” located at the end of the book – While you would not find any mention of Islamic fiction books, there are enough general fiction and great non-fiction books from which you can find suitable books for your children, inshaAllah. 

– The “Do’s and Don’ts of Read-Aloud” – A lengthy, but constructive list of things you as a parent or teacher should and should not as related to reading aloud. 

When you read The Read-Aloud Handbook you may find yourself motivated to start reading to your children again (if it has been a long while since you did). And if you already do read-aloud, then this book may give you some suggestions of books that your children may like hearing (see the “Treasury of Read-Alouds”). For those who have yet to acknowledge the importance of reading aloud to children then The Read-Aloud Handbook is definitely a book you should consider taking a look at. 

Title: The Read-Aloud Handbook, 6th edition 

Author: Jim Trelease 

 Publisher: Penguin 

 Date: 2006 

 Pages: 432 pages 

 ISBN: 978-0143037392

10 Great Reasons to Read to Our Children

Sometimes we need a little motivation to get us going in the right direction, to continue on course or to resume a course of action we once started. This is true for many parents when it comes to reading to our children.

Some of us began reading to our children from babyhood and all the way into kindergarten age. Then slowly we let the read-aloud habit fall to the wayside as our child grow into independent readers. But regardless of age our children benefit ftom hearing us read, from our expressions and pronunciation of words. Did you know that our children can listen at a higher level than they themselves can read?

So read, read, read. We must read everyday with our baby, toddler, preschooler, kindergarten, elementary and middle school child. We may even try reading to our teenagers too as I have heard of one parent doing. 

Here are 10 Great Reasons to Read to Your Children

  1. “A Command” – The Qur’an, the best book and guidance, begins with the word “Read”. Read the Qur’an, read the hadith and then read some more. There are many Islamic books (and the numbers are growing) for you to read aloud to your child (see the book reviews on this blog).
  2. “Learn the Deen” – Sharing books is one great way of teaching children Islam.
  3. “Together Time” – Reading brings families together. What better way than to spend time together sitting and sharing books.
  4. “Warm Connections” –  Holding the very young in your lap, sitting snugly with an older child on the sofa, or just sitting on the corner of the bed reading aloud can be a warm and loving experience. A child feels happy and secure having his/her parent’s time and attention.
  5. “Reading Readiness” – Children who are read to grow into readers. Reading aloud to your child from young makes him/her familiar with the sound and appearance of the printed word. Making this connection makes it highly possible for this child to develop into a confident reader from an earlier age.
  6. “Imagination and Expression Booster” – Develops the imagination of an older child as he/she must picture the story, settings and characters in his mind. They as well as younger children learn how to express words by hearing you read.
  7. “Life Skill” – You are giving them a life skill. Reading is essential in all functioning as a Muslim and a human being. Besides, it has also been said, every teacher and librarian you ever meet will thank you!¹
  8. “Attention Span Grows” – Listening to stories will help learn to concentrate and develop your child’s attention span.
  9. “Word Power” – Reading aloud helps to build vocabulary and improve pronunciation of new words. Children can communicate their ideas and feelings better when they use a variety of words.
  10. “Just Fun” – Yes, reading is fun and talking about the illustrations are too!