Zoe Howlett is inspiring children around St. Louis, Missouri to read for twenty minutes per day.
The six-year-old invested money she earned from running a lemonade stand into books, encouraging her mother, Tiara, to establish a virtual book club for kids after receiving a $2,500 community enrichment grant. Tiara believes that learning is paramount to a child’s future, stating that she “felt like a lot of the kids in the inner-city area were not reading.”
Virtual book clubs have become a staple in the current climate of social distancing, with many celebrities taking part including Oprah and the cast of Mean Girls on Broadway. They are particularly important for children during this time as some elementary schools have moved to an online format. Through virtual meetings, students can both progress their reading skills and maintain social interaction with peers.
It has been reported by the U.S. Department of Education that those who do not read at grade level by the third grade are significantly more likely not to complete high school. As Gretchen Gales, a high school English teacher, explains:
Getting children, no matter their age, to read more books has always been a major concern for parents—even before there were quarantines and school shutdowns.
Zoe’s book club will begin in September. First-graders will be instructed to read for twenty minutes per day over four years, totaling in 1,825 books read overall. Students will receive a financial reward for their participation.
For more information on how to further child development during quarantine, check out Reading Rockets’ Resources to Keep Kids Learning at Home.