World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) is an international movement that encourages adults, teens, and children to gather together in community to celebrate literacy, storytelling, and the power of words. Organized through LitWorld, reaching over 80 countries and one million people, WRAD is a strong statement to the world that all people have a right to literacy and to sharing their own stories.
This year Springboard to Opportunities is helping to bring the celebration of WRAD to Mississippi for the first time, through five STO communities. This is a powerful and important statement in Mississippi, a state where, according to data from 2013, 79% of fourth graders could not read at proficient levels. More shocking is the breakdown of that statistic with 85% of low-income Mississippi fourth graders falling below the proficiency line*. This is the highest rate in the nation.
Low rates of literacy at all grade levels in Mississippi are tied to economic disadvantage and access to opportunities. Furthermore, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation’s report, the gap between higher-income and lower-income children is continuing to increase*.
On March 4, for WRAD, however, Springboard communities are gathering together to show the value they place on reading, writing, and storytelling, and the effort they are taking to better their own communities. While LitWorld LitClub meetings provide resources to girls aged 10-12 each week, for WRAD all community members will show the importance they place on the power of reading and writing. Exemplifying the Springboard goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty, whole families will be tied together in this event as parents and kids celebrate together.
Within each Springboard community, residents will celebrate WRAD in different, yet meaningful, ways. At Lincoln Gardens and Commonwealth Village there will be Poetry Cafe’s, sharing the exciting and engaging poems from Shel Silverstein. At Overlook, three special guests, including a local librarian and teacher, will read stories aloud and lead writing activities. While at The Village Community, children will go through various stations, acting out parts of books and recreating scenery from literary imagery.
Springboard recognizes the challenge that Mississippi lays at the bottom for all makers of literacy in the country, and is implementing programming such as WRAD to help residents change this, a part of their larger mission to help community members advance themselves in work, school, and life.
Despite finding themselves in an unequal, slow to change Mississippi, Springboard communities are making a powerful statement this week that literacy is valued. Furthermore, connecting these communities to the international fight for the right of all people to share their own stories, takes on special significance in Mississippi, as high-risk, low-income children and their families prioritize reading together.