In 2010, a teacher listening to author Neil Gaiman on NPR had the idea to connect kids across the world by having adults read aloud to kids the same books during a six-week period. The Global Read Aloud begins its ninth year October 2, having grown from 150 participants that first year to 1.2 million in more than 70 countries registered for this year’s event, according to founder Pernille Ripp. You, too, can participate.

The Global Read Aloud “is meant to make the world a little smaller, to open our eyes to the rest of the world and look at all of our shared experiences,” says Ripp on the GRA website. “How phenomenal for a child to know that the same book they are reading is being read in classrooms across the globe.”

GRA was started with teachers and students in mind, but anyone can participate by reading aloud to kids the chosen books and sharing about what they’re doing. While some may simply read aloud to their own children, others may incorporate the reading in their classrooms and even engage others through newsletters, Skype, Twitter, blogs and more.

For the younger kids, there’s a book for each week of the six-week event. This year’s titles, chosen with a focus on indigenous writers and art forms, are:

Week 1: “My Heart Fills with Happiness” by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

This British Columbia Book Prize winning board book describes simple things that bring happiness.

Week 2: “Wild Berries” by Julie Flett, translated by Earl N. Cook

This picture book follows Clarence and his grandma (ōkoma) as they pick wild blueberries in a woodland.

Week 3: “You Hold Me Up” by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel

Children and adults share the ways they show empathy and respect and build relationships.

Week 4: “A Day with Yayah” by Nicola I. Campbell and Julie Flett

Nikki and her friends join grandmother Yayah collecting edible plants, and learn about the natural world.

Week 5: “When We Were Alone” by David Alexander Robertson and Julie Flett

A young girl discovers the ways in which her grandmother preserved their culture, despite difficult years at a Native American residential school.

Week 6: A book of your choice.

For the older kids, there’s a chapter book, with a reading schedule for each week. The books are:

“A Boy Called Bat” by Elana K. Arnold, illustrated by Charles Santoso, for early readers. A young boy on the autism spectrum wants to adopt a baby skunk in the care of his veterinarian mom. Week 1: Chapters 1 – 4; Week 2: Chapters 5 -8; Week 3: Chapters 9 – 12; Week 4: Chapters 13 – 16; Week 5: Chapters 17 – 21; Week 6: Chapters 22 – End.

“Amal Unbound” by Aisha Saeed, for upper elementary and middle school ages. Amal, a 12-year-old Pakistani girl, struggles against injustice and inequality, hoping for education and freedom. Week 1: Chapters 1 – 8; Week 2: Chapters 9 – 16; Week 3: Chapters 17 – 24; Week 4: Chapters 25 – 32; Week 5: Chapters 33 – 40; Week 6: Chapters 41 – End.

“Refugee” by Alan Gratz, for middle school/junior high ages. This book weaves together the stories of three young people from three periods in history who are in search of refuge. Week 1: Pages 1 – 55; Week 2: Pages 56 – 92; Week 3: Pages 93 – 146; Week 4: Pages 147 – 196; Week 5: Pages 197 – 252; Week 6: 253 – End.

“Love, Hate and Other Filters” by Samira Ahmed, for young adults. American-born Maya Aziz is torn between her dreams, her parents’ expectations and anti-Muslim backlash. Week 1: Chapters 1 – 4; Week 2: Chapters 5 – 8; Week 3: Chapters 9 – 12; Week 4: Chapters 13 – 16; Week 5: Chapters 17 – 20; Week 6: Chapters 21 – End.

“The Global Read Aloud continues to grow because of the incredible people that participate and the amazing books that authors create,” Ripp says. “It continues to be a free project, where the only thing you need is the book and some way to connect with others. Who knows where this project will go, but one thing is for sure; we are connecting the world through a book every single year.”

For more information about The Global Read Aloud: One Book to Connect the World, visit

Milton Public Library Director
This article was first published as the September 12, 2018, Book Bits column in the Milton Independent.