Author Peter H. Reynolds Joins World Read Aloud Day at Shubert Theatre

Story & Photos by Marianne Salza The Boch Center partnered with New York Times best-selling children’s book author and illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, presented World Read Aloud Day at the Shubert Theatre on February 7. Read Aloud Day is a global literary movement that promotes the joy and imaginativeness of a joint reading experience. “What I love most about being an author is sharing,” explained Reynolds, who enjoys reading with his daughter, son, and grandchildren. “You can read a book quietly, or share it with others. That’s why Read Aloud Day is important to me.” Over 1,000 students from Boston Public Schools and Chelsea Public Schools participated in person. Two thousand classrooms registered for the virtual live stream, reaching an audience of some 50,000 students nationally, and throughout 16 countries, such as Australia, India, and Japan. “World Read Aloud Day amazes me because of the response we’ve gotten to the event,” expressed Corey Evans, Vice President and Senior Director of Education, Boch Center. “It’s an opportunity for us to serve not just Boston, but a worldwide audience and celebrate art, creativity, and literacy. We have a firm belief that everyone should have the right to a creative life and education, regardless of socio-economic status or any other boundaries.” Read Aloud Day featured an interactive workshop, and a reading of Reynolds’s book, “The Word Collector,” which was chosen by former president, Barak Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of Chicago Public Library’s Live from the Library series during the pandemic. “As an author and storyteller, I love words. I wrote a story to model that joy,” declared Reynolds. Reynolds’s goal when writing “The Word Collector” was to make learning words more fun for readers than simply “vocabulary acquisition.”  “When I started learning my ABC’s, I realized I could put them together and make words, and connect those words to make sentences. I love the library and got inspired reading books,” remembered Reynolds, whose favorite word is “effervescent.” Reynolds stressed the importance of reading aloud with loved ones. When he was a little boy, Reynolds was captivated by the Shakespeare and Charles Dickens books that his elder sister, Jane, would read to him. “It takes a while to learn how to read by yourself; but until then, you can have a book read aloud to you,” acknowledged Reynolds. “Eventually it clicks hearing and seeing the words. That’s magical.” Reynolds discussed his process of writing, illustrating, and proof-reading a book. He hopes Read Aloud Day inspires the next generation of story tellers. His advice to young writers is to keep a journal and write their ideas during quiet moments when there are few distractions. “It usually takes a second for me to come up with an idea. It’s like a lighting strike. Then I write it down quickly on a piece of paper so I don’t forget,” revealed Reynolds. Reynolds explained his love of creating artwork through mediums such as watercolor, pencil, and digital sketching. During the workshop, he drew a mouse that likes to attend the theatre. “I’m a big advocate for the arts. It’s something that schools need more of,” asserted Reynolds. “The Boch Center has been a champion of that.” Boch Center teaching artists, Jasmine and Han, empowered students to sing and move their bodies with the goal of helping little ones understand that the performing arts are about sharing stories. “Reading aloud is a way to bring a book to life. What’s wonderful about teachers is they know how to dive deeply into the book,” said Reynolds, owner of Blue Bunny Books, Dedham. Reynolds and the Boch Center — which offers free programming and community outreach opportunities to explore and participate in the arts – provided a copy of one of Reynolds’s books to every student in the audience. Reynolds hopes “The Word Collector” inspired children to use their words to shape stories. He emphasized that their voices matter, and that the world needs to hear them. “Hate is louder than kindness. We have to amplify the kindness and encourage people to use their words,” said Reynolds. “If they’re too shy to use words, use music or sculpture.” Read Aloud Day is part of a collaboration with Reynolds’s educational, multimedia development company, FableVision Studios, in Boston’s Back Bay, and The Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity (TLC), opening this spring at 390 Washington Street, Downtown Boston. Reynolds TLC is an interactive studio that Reynolds and his twin brother, Paul, founded to support hands-on technology skills. “It’s designed to inspire teachers to recharge their creativity batteries. Kids are welcome, too. It’ll be 6,000-square-feet of creative tools,” beamed Reynolds. The non-profit organization will offer professional development programs, student-driven digital story-telling opportunities, video, audio, and animation production resources, and story-powered social and emotional courses. Reynolds TLC will feature video and podcasting studios, green screens, and event space.  “I wanted to open up that cool experience to teachers and say, ‘you guys are story tellers. You’re inspiring the next generation of storytellers. You should tell your own stories – record them, act them, and share them,’” exclaimed Reynolds. “We think the world needs more creativity if we’re going to take care of everybody on the planet.”

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