MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) — The Shelby Co. School District is taking storytime online after it was inspired by a local principal who read to his students live on Facebook.
Twice a week, on Sunday and Thursday nights at 8 p.m., kids can tune in on the district’s Facebook or website for a new bedtime story. Each video will feature a new community member reading their favorite book.
The district rolled out its first video of the new bedtime story series on Sunday with Trezevant High School’s mascot “Trez the Bear” who reads the story, “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates.”
Each week pre-taped videos will include a mix of different community members. Later, as the program grows, the district plans to do live readings on Facebook.
Shelby Co. Schools Chief of Academics Officer Antonio Burt said the bedtime stories goes hand-in-hand with the district’s third grade commitment to literacy. The district has made a push to improve student reading abilities by the end of the third grade.
“The bedtime story series is our approach to really bringing a heightened awareness around early literacy but we also wanted to do it where we involved and engaged our community stake holders as well so the approach was to have them read their favorite childhood book so kids could see different individuals,” Burt said.
The district was inspired, Burt said, to do the bedtime story series after Bruce Elementary Principal Archie Moss started to read to his students through Facebook live last year.
“I noticed that here at our school that we’ve seen a lot of gains in math and science, but what we weren’t seeing was as many gains in reading. So we’re really starting to establish a culture of reading on our campus,” Moss said.
Moss said after he started, he saw a shift from students who had a new desire to want to read and learn.
“The kids were really enjoying it and every week they were trying to ask me, ‘what book are you going to be reading next?'”, Moss said.
Burt and the district hope the videos can have the same affect across the district.
“As a kick start to that upcoming instructional week, so when they go into their schools and they’re doing circle time on the carpet, they have something to talk about with their classmate and it just enhances the conversation around the love of reading,” he said.
The hope is parents will also get involved and engaged in conversations with their children on reading, too.
Burt said the district plans to do the videos for the entire the school year, much to the excitement of Moss.
“I was so excited that my idea could be able to inspire the district to take it on a larger scale and so now, I still do it on Tuesday nights. The district has Sundays and Thursdays, so now there’s three nights out of the week that scholars can be exposed to bedtime stories,” he said.
Thursday’s bedtime story will be with Hatiloo CEO Ekundayo Bandele. He’ll be reading Maya Angelou’s “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.”