by Caroline Watkins, AmeriCorps Member on the Capital Area United Way team at Capitol Middle School

Ready, set, READ! On Wednesday, March 4th, many will pledge to read aloud in support of World Read Aloud Day (http://litworld.org/wrad), an annual celebration of literacy and a movement to encourage everyone to pick up a book and discover what is inside.  As corps members, we are always modeling a desire for knowledge and personal growth.  For me, reading has always been both enriching and empowering.  I have never been a math or science person; numbers and division signs and cellular replication have never made sense to me. But I’ve been telling my mom since I was three that I would have a library like Belle one day, because stories have always been a source of comfort and escape, something beautiful and perfect and safe in a world that is so often not.  Without them, I would not have known about James and his horrid aunts and the bugs that flew his peach across the ocean, or Amelia Bedelia’s many mishaps in her pretty white apron, or that Beezus is actually a little girl’s name, and not some kind of vegetable you have to swallow whole.  The corps members at Capitol Middle School share why literacy was so important to them while growing up and remains just as meaningful today.

“Being read to as a child gave me the chance to imagine things.  I believe imagination is the key to creativity, something I really appreciate in others and myself.  My favorite book was Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, because it was about a girl about my age and a life that was different and interesting!” – Emily Hinshaw

“Reading was important to me because it was my only way of experiencing cultures different than those of where I lived. Reading is the foundation for becoming a lifelong learner.” – Trevor Perry

“When I was younger, I enjoyed reading to people like my older brother. Reading aloud as opposed to being read to helped build my confidence and sense of independence.” – Maliah Mathis

“Reading is important to me because books hold insurmountable information, adventures, and opinions of brilliant people.  Reading brings me a joy that is superior to almost any other activity.  My dad read Calvin and Hobbes to me every night growing up, and I adore reading because of it." – Joe Rutkiewicz

“I really enjoyed reading because it gave me the opportunity to broaden my vocabulary, as well as learn about others and their cultures.” – Mo Bouchard

“My mother would read to my brothers and I when we were younger. It was a great way to get to spend time with one another, while getting lost in the imaginary world that a book can bring you to.” – Jaclyn Martin

“I love reading because it allows me to travel to new worlds and go on great adventures, all from the comfort of my room. My favorite book is called East by Edith Pattou. This book is about a young woman with a wild spirit and her journey to discovering her courage and saving the man she loves.” – Adejuwon Adeyemo

“My great-grandmother would read to my sister and I every single night and taught us to read before we even started kindergarten. To me, reading was a way to have fun and explore things and places I hadn't yet seen but would one day be able to.  Out of my love of reading grew a love of creative writing.  I really enjoyed the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories growing because she was a young woman that proved everyone wrong and solved tons of mysteries, teaching me that women can do anything they put their minds to.” – Jasmine Thomas

“My parents read to me a lot as a child, and it inspired a love of reading that has lasted through my whole life.  It also gave me a thirst for knowledge.” – Becky Livingston  

 “My mommy started reading to me at a very young age. She made it a norm to have a book ready every night so that she could read it to my sister and I.  I fell in love with reading because it allowed me to imagine myself in the story.” – Alainna Cox

 “When I was in elementary school, I hated reading. I used to thumb through the first few pages of a book and then skip to the last page during silent reading time. Reading was not at the top of my list of nine-year-old priorities. But in the fourth grade, my teacher Mr. Howard read J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone aloud to our class. Up until this point, I didn't realize how reading could transform simple words on a page into a life size chess board, or how lines of dialogue could make me laugh out loud like I was listening to full blown, real life conversations between classmates. I have loved Harry and the gang ever since. I owe a lot to Mr. Howard, who took the time to read aloud a non-picture book that allowed me to see quidditch matches and unruly Dark Arts professors and three trouble-making British kids who quickly became my friends.” – Juliette Rocheleau, Senior Corps Member

“Growing up, reading was only cool to me because it was information. I loved talking about history, God, and football with anyone who would listen. So, the more I knew, the more I read, the better the conversations were.” – Eron Jenkins, Impact Manager

I will read aloud on 3/4 for World Read Aloud Day, will you? #ReadAloud. Change the world.

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