Improve childhood literacy one video at a time

Local

Today I’m going to read “You Don’t Want a Unicorn”…

All you need is five minutes and a good book to make a difference in a child’s life.

My name is Jae Hedrick. I’m an avid reader, and have loved reading since I was little.

Wichita community members are joining together to make up the Story Time Video Readers Community, a new literacy improvement project started by the adult school KANSEL.

“Literacy in our area has been a consistent challenge, and schools can’t do it on their own,” said KANSEL executive director and CEO Thomas Montiel.

Experts stressed that children need to read before kindergarten, as their future and our community depend on it.

“Children are more than just tiny little humans. They’re the ones that are going to be making the decisions for us as we’re aging,” said video reader Jae Hedrick.

With the click of a camera button, Hedrick and other adults can read to several Wichita kids. Each recorded story is then available on YouTube.

“The ultimate goal is to record one video for every day between May and August, roughly 120 videos,” Montiel said.

The video readers believe reading shouldn’t stop during the summer break.

“Sometimes parents don’t have the resources or abilities to do that at home all the time,” said Sara Ornelas. 

Ornelas also owns Blue Baboon Books in west Wichita, and hosted the first recording session.

She said the bookstore sees several parents and children come in for books.

“Parents don’t like to see their kids looking at a glowing screen all the time,” she said.

Although the new effort means kids will look at a glowing screen to watch the videos, Montiel explained they’ll be looking at someone reading them a book.

“It’s about connection,” he said.

Sharing words and showing pictures to a child can have a lasting impact.

“We want to make kids just love reading,” Ornelas said.

The next recording sessions are scheduled for this weekend:

  • Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at KANSEL (1650 N. Fairview Avenue, Wichita)
  • Sunday from 1-4 p.m., at The Lyceum at Reverie (2206 E. Douglas, Wichita)

Sign up for a Friday time slot here, and a Sunday time slot here. New sessions will be posted regularly.

Bring any child book to read, and feel free to dress up in pajamas or a costume.

For more information, visit the Video Readers Community Facebook page. If you’d like to donate to the project, visit kansel.org/support.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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