February 24th was World Read Aloud Day. I was lucky enough to participate in the day's festivities by skyping with 13 different schools, most of them in the United States. (Which is kind of ironic, since I live in the Middle East!) Because of our 8 to 10 hour time differences, I ended up skyping with most of the schools when it was early morning for them, evening for me. Also, in order to fit them all in, I had to skype with some of them on days other than the 24th, making World Read Aloud Day more like World Read Aloud Week!
Each school was amazing. I skyped with some that were in big inner-cities, and others that were in small, midwest towns. Some schools were private and others were public. Though many of them had a very different make up of students, most of their questions were the same. All of them wanted to know when I decided I wanted to be a writer. (I was 8.) Most were curious about where I wrote. (At my desk, early morning, as soon as I'm back from taking the dog for a run.) They wanted to know about my character's names, where my ideas came from, who were my favorite writers, and if I was going to write more books.
And, many of them had the same ambitions. When I asked if they liked writing, most raised their hands. When I asked if they liked revising, most hands dropped. When I told them I felt the same way -- that writing is fun, and revising is work -- everyone laughed. We were all on the same page.
The point is, though each of these 13 schools had significant differences, the kids inside them had plenty of similarities, too. They asked the same questions, laughed in the same places and had many of the same struggles when it came to writing as I do. Even though their climates, class size and school structure varied, they had a lot in common. They reminded me that we are not all that different, if we are willing to look for the patterns and the consistencies.
Best part of World Read Aloud Day (Week)? These kids were smart. They were engaged. And they were kind. The twenty minutes with each group flew by. I'm already looking forward to next year!