Reading is fun(damental): How two second-graders started a Zoom book club
MONTREAL -- Like many folks, William Ghattas and Ella Schnitzer formed a book club over Zoom when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The thing that sets them apart is they were only in the second grade at the time.
Ghattas who attends St. George’s School in Westmount, and Schnitzer, a student at JPPS-Bialik, both love books and wanted to share them with other kids during isolation.
“Eat your vegetables and release our parents!” squealed Ella as she read aloud from a favourite book, much to the delight of William and their younger siblings in the backyard here in Montreal West during an in-person meeting of the club.
Ella and William have known each other all their lives. Their parents have been friends for years and have helped nurture their love of books.
It’s been one year since they started their book club when they were only eight-years-old.
"At the end of the book, when it's time to end, we talk about what we like and what we read," explained Ella.
Now, they want to share their love of books by reading to other kids. They playfully read aloud to each other with William doing all the character voices and adding some dramatic flourishes
Both readers have been making videos of themselves and have recently launched a website called WEread2U; the WE stands for William & Ella and they offer personalized videos for kids in insolation. William said it started as a very small idea.
"At first we just doing ourselves a little book club and the idea grew and grew and grew until we got to this.”
The two youngsters especially want to reach young patients in hospital who might need a connection.
“We just want to get this program in front of as many families and children as possible," said Ella’s mom, Ashlee Wismach. "We want them to know that this is out there.”
Wismach invited curious folks to visit the website and fill in a few quick questions to order a free, bilingual video.
“It takes a couple of seconds to fill out the form and no questions asked, you get a story for your child in a secure and private link.”
William and Ella are so enthusiastic about books that they seem to spread the joy. William’s Mom, Marie-Josée Blais, suspects there may be a bit of "monkey-see, monkey do" at play here for young readers.
“It's a little clique, if that person can do that, maybe I can do it to," she said. “It's fun how he does it and we can do a book club too. Maybe we can just spark some interest.”