Saturday, March 9, 2013

Our "World Read Aloud Day" Celebration Connected Us 21 Times During The Week That Made A Difference!

We celebrated World Read Aloud Day all week long at Van Meter by joining LitWorld's global reading movement of making a difference in the lives of others through books, sharing, and reading.  

All week long we brought wonderful new books, authors, illustrators, friends, students, teachers, and schools around the country into our library and school community.  

21 Skype connections to be exact!  
Over the last two months, I have been making connections through Twitter, Facebook, and emails with others interested in connecting for WRAD.  And several reached out to us too.   One place we signed up to make connections was a Google Doc shared with me from a friend on Twitter.  

We have used wiki's and Google Doc's to organize big collaborative events like this over the last three years....always an easy way to set up connections. 
I kept track of our WRAD schedule within another Google Doc just for Van Meter.  I had to stay super organized for this one and I wanted everyone to know what was happening in the library during WRAD week. 
The week started off with a Skype with Misti Sikes and her 5th grade students.
You can check out a Padlet we started together, "Lets Celebrate World Read Aloud Day Together",  and add your favorite books that you have read too.   We will continue to add to this with our friends around the world.
On Tuesday, we Skyped with our amazing friend Laurel Snyder, author of Bigger Than A Bread Box, Penny Dreadful, and Inside The Slidy Dinner. Laurel tells such a sweet story of becoming a writer and encourages all of the young writers around me to never give up on their dreams of doing what they want to do.  
The next day was World Read Aloud...the day we had been waiting for all year. 
Our day started out early with Jesse Klausmeier, author of Open This Little Book, a new favorite in our library.  She visited our 3rd graders a few weeks ago and I wrote about it here.
On this day we Skyped with Jesse and the kindergarteners in Andy Plemmons school in Georgia too.  We have been connecting these two classes over the last month, so this was another important and fun connection for the kids.  After spring break, we will be collaborating with them on a big book project.
Our kindergarteners asked Jesse the sweetest questions after she read to all of us.  
Next I went to Christa McClintock's kindergarten classroom to Skype with my friend Okle Miller, an elementary teacher librarian from Valrico, Florida.
We had planned to have a special guest with us for this Skype visit.  Bacon, a pot-bellied pig from Van Meter, was going to come visit but the snow was too deep for him to walk to school.  So we focused on one of the most popular animals in Florida.....Manatees.  

Okle read I'm A Manatee by John Lithgow....
and shared a nonfiction book about manatees too.  We learned how close they lived to her and thought that would be very cool.

When the weather is a little nicer Bacon will be visiting our school and we will be Skyping with Okle and her students again.  This time we will read The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and have fun sharing a little of Iowa with our new friends in Florida.
Next up was a very special friend of Van Meter's and we decided to put on a few mustaches for this one.
It was Tom Angleberger and his beautiful wife Cece Bell, who is also an author and illustrator.
Tom's books include Fake Mustache, Origami Yoda, and several others.   He always does the greatest job of getting the kids soooo excited about reading, writing, and creating things that are fun.
Tom even showed us the original Origami Yoda who appeared on the front of the book cover.
Tom asked us to get out our green sheets of paper.  He taught us all how to create our very own Origami Yoda.
Our 2nd and 4th graders asked Tom a lot of awesome questions.  Hagan asked Tom when Origami Yoda and the his other books were going to become a movie.
Here are Mrs. Ferguson's 2nd graders with their Origami Yoda's....I can't wait to see what they create next.
The third graders and I Skyped with our dear friend Robert Forbes, who is a poet and author of Beastly Feasts, Lets Have A Bite, and his newest book Beast Friends Forever. 
Robert encouraged the kids to find poems in everything and encouraged them to write too.  
In the middle of our Skype's, Diana and I thought a little Harlem Shake would be fun for World Read Aloud Day.  We had Staci Braun's 4th graders come in, found costumes from another teacher down the hall, and invited Clifford to help us out too.
The Van Meter WRAD Harlem Shake turned out AWESOME!  What fun.
These two made my day!  My wonderful friend and library associate Diana Hockenberry and senior Sebastian Gillespie were the BEST characters in our Harlem Shake.
Next, my super funny friend Erica Perl author of When Life Gives You O.J., Dotty, and two of our absolute all-time favorite picture books.....Chicken Butt! and Chicken Butt's Back! Skyped with us.

Erica spoke to the 1st graders about writing, creating rhymes and poems, and told the kids they were all authors and writing books.
And for a super special treat Erica shared King of the Zoo that doesn't even come out until this summer. 
But the very best part was when Erica read CHICKEN BUTT!!! I told Erica there is no one who gets the kids more excited during Skype visits.  Erica said, "For me it is World Read LOUD Day."  
Marjan Ghara founder of our favorite online children's book community BiblioNasium Skyped from New York City.  She read If You Give A Pancake and spoke to the 1st graders about how important and fun reading is.

You can read more about BiblioNasium and how we are using it at the post BiblioNasium...An Awesome New "Virtual Reading Community" Our Students Love. 
Marjan created these beautiful BiblioNasium bookmarks for us and we just had to take another one home today.  She has become a very special friend of ours at Van Meter. 
The 5th graders came to the library next.  They were happy to see Donna Gephart Skyping from Florida.  Donna brings so much happy and fun when she visits us.  We love hearing her funny stories.
Donna told us about her new book coming out, Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen.  They noticed that the cover we had at Van Meter was different than the final cover, so Donna told us the reasons why.  
Donna wrote a post all about her WRAD on her blog Wild About Words.  Thank you Donna for including us and the Harlem Shake!
Mark Moran, CEO of FindingDulcinea asked his son what he should read to our 5th graders.  He read a chapter from Code Talker.  Mark loves reading and connecting with the young people at Van Meter....
and we just love having him here too. 
OHHHHH it was Mrs. P next!  Mrs. P has visited Van Meter four times now and every time she is funnier and more inspiring than the last. Her website and app, Mrs. P's Magic Library, is a favorite place our students love to visit.
They always have tons of questions for Mrs. P because they can't wait to see what she will say.
We included teacher librarian Shawna Ford's class Weatherford, Texas on our Skype with Mrs. P too.  We loved seeing another class on Skype having as much fun as we were.
One of our 3rd graders, Shae, wrote about our Skype with Mrs. P on her KidBlog.  As you can see...they love Mrs. P.
Over the last year I have become friends with Seymour Simon and his wife Liz Nealon. They have created one of our favorite places for eBooks, StarWalk Kids Media.  And of course Seymour's print books are extremely popular in our library.
When I told the third graders we were Skyping with Seymour, they all clapped.  It was so much fun watching the conversation between Seymour and the kids.
He read from two of his books....Earth and Ghosts.  
They were very excited when Seymour told them about a new series of books that he has written called Einstein Anderson, Science Geek.  Each book has five stories and each of the stories end with a challenge to the reader to solve a mystery.  There is also a science experiment or project included in each too.  The first book in the series is The Impossible Shrinking Machine and Other Cases.  The first 8 books will be on StarWalk Kids in about a month or so....We just can't wait! 
The 3rd graders found Seymour's books on the shelf and checked them out too.
 And Shae wrote about Seymour on her KidBlog too!
My friend Ellisa Malespina, the teacher librarian at South Orange Middle School in New Jersey, and I planned a Mystery Book Skype between Melissa Butler (6th grade from her school) and Janelle Thompson's (5th grade from Van Meter) students. We decided to created a game in to play together during World Read Aloud Day week.  The students created the questions and we came together for a hour that day to play.  
We connected on Thursday morning. I will be writing more about this project and connection in the next post on my blog. 
They used their laptops to research the questions during the game, which helped them with their Google skills a lot.  It was one of the best connections I have ever been part of and one that we will do again very soon.
Our kindergarten students Skyped with Donna MacDonald's 1st graders.  She is the teacher librarian at Orchard School in South Burlington, Vermont.   I read Same, Same, But Different to the two classes.  We talked about what was the same and what was different about us.
And a view from Vermont into Van Meter too.  What fun to see this!
My new favorite picture book to share during Skype's is Same, Same, But Different by Jenny Kostecki....Thanks to my dear friend Andy Plemmons who suggested it when we connected our 2nd graders on a blogging project a few weeks ago.
After visiting Jenny's amazing website, I connected with her and asked if she would like to join us for World Read Aloud Day.  It was so wonderful having her visit our library and students that she has touched with her book.
I especially loved when she told us about the process she used to create the illustrations and showed us her idea books.  They were just amazing.  To hear how she worked through the process of creating the illustrations and how she made so many connections to her own life experiences in Nepal was one of the best parts of WRAD.
Our last Skype on Thursday was with Sarah W.'s 5th graders in Wisconsin.  Since our 2nd graders just heard Jenny tell us all about her book Same, Same, But Different, our students took turns reading it aloud to one another.  We also had wonderful things to share about Jenny's story and the creation of her book.
On Friday, we started out our day by Skyping with Tracey Luehrs from Mackin Educational Resources.  She is a collection development librarian at Mackin so gets to see all of the super cool books before they even are released.  She shared two of those picture books with the first graders for World Read Aloud Day.
Tracey read The Dark by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen, who is one of our most favorite illustrators.
The third graders Skyped with Mary Priske and her third graders at Washington Elementary in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  They read a Elephant and Piggie book as a class to our kids.....and we all LOVE Mo Williems books.
After they read the book, my students told them about Poem In Your Pocket Day coming up on April 18th.  It will be great connecting with Mary's students again.
Our very last WRAD visit was Crystal Brunelle and her 3rd graders in Wisconsin.  I read Same, Same, But Different.  When we were done with the book, the kids took turn asking each other questions.
What a nice way to end the week.
Here is a view from Crystal's library too. 
To make the week even more special, all throughout the week special messages and projects popped up all around.
 We loved following the tweets from #WRAD13 and received this special one from LitWorld.
Meridan Boyd, one of our 3rd graders at Van Meter, wrote World Read Aloud Day: What A Wonderful Day! on her blog, Meridan's Little Voice.
My little Hagan started a story in a Google Doc entitled Origami Hobbit, inspired by his buddy Tom.
And these GIANT Origami Yoda's and a whole lots more showed up to celebrate too.

World Read Aloud Day is a very special day.  We always turn it into a very special week.  And it is one that we all look forward to every year.

One thing it brings to us is the inspiration and excitement to read and share throughout the year.

A very special thank you for everyone who connected with us throughout the week.   You made a difference.

We can all make a difference through reading, books, sharing, and creating.  We can change the world.


  1. Dear Shannon and the Van Meter community:
    Thank you for including me in your fabulously wonderful celebration of World Read Aloud Day. It was an honor. And ... it was soo much FUN.

    You continue to blaze ahead and light the way for others to follow. Thank you.

    Warmest Regards
    Marjan Ghara
    Founder, CEO BiblioNasium
    Where Kids Flex Their Reading Muscles!

    1. Dear Marjan,

      You are very welcome....And thank you so much for being part of our celebration. :) It was so great having you read to the little people.

      And yes HOW FUN. :)

      Thank you for everything you do.

      Truly, Shannon

  2. Wow! Amazing, Shannon! I wanna be like you when I grow up! ;) I can only imagine how much planning it took to get all this together. Your students are so lucky yo have you as their librarian. Great job!

    1. oops! *to have you, not you have you LOL

    2. Hi there Jo,

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog and the very nice compliment. :) It was such a wonderful week...Everyone had a fun time.

      Please let me know if I can ever help you too. :)

      Truly, Shannon