In 2018, a study was conducted for Australian National University into the effects of childhood literary immersion on long-term literacy. They found that adults who grew up in a home rich with books (and presumably, parents who valued books) performed as well in testing as other adults who grew up book-poor but had achieved a higher level of education. A childhood library, their research indicated, was equal in value to years of additional education.
A love of reading is perhaps the single most valuable virtue that can be instilled in a child, with payoffs that will last their entire lives. And that is a personal goal of one Texas principal: Belinda George, of Homer Drive Elementary School in Beaumont.
Every Tuesday night, George streams a live video of herself on Facebook Live, cozy on her sofa in her pajamas, reading a children’s book aloud. She uses silly voices and commentary to make the stories vivid for her students in a weekly performance she calls “Tucked-in Tuesdays.”
“I don’t know if they are read to or not at home,” said George in an interview with The Washington Post. According to her, nearly all of her students come from poor homes, and barely half of her third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders are reading at grade level. She understands the inherent difficulty families like that face in education; parents struggling to make ends meet have little time for bedtime stories or homework help.
She encourages her livestreams to be family time, with adults and siblings listening along with her young students. She greets each child by name as they join the chat, and encourages questions and interactions as she goes.
“I know if I don’t reach them outside of school; I never reach them in school,” said George. Bringing reading home, making it not just something students just go and do and then leave behind every day, is her goal.