We see and hear and know so much about the dangers and the evils of modern social media — about the bullying, the scamming, the spreading of false news stories and the attempts to manipulate elections.
Sometimes we need to be reminded about the good it can do as well.
Frederick County students returned to their classrooms on Tuesday morning after the long summer holiday. And on Monday evening, a dedicated educator sat on her porch at home and read a bedtime story to a large group of those children. But they weren’t on the porch with her — they were home getting ready for bed.
She was streaming live. On Facebook.
That is a wonder of the modern age, and it shows the power for good inherent in social media, when the tools are in the hands of loving, caring people.
Kristen Canning is the principal of Ballenger Creek Elementary School, and she was doing the reading, helping to get children excited about going to school for the first time or returning to school.
A bedtime story is not a big deal. Parents have been telling their children stories for millenniums and reading to them before bed for centuries now. It is a wonderful time of day for the child and the parent, a few moments of bonding over the joy of reading, whether the story is funny, inspiring, or even a little wistful or sad. Almost every child and every parent can recall huddling together while sharing a special storybook, such as “Goodnight, Moon.”
But we are also certain that for many little ones heading off the next morning, there was a special kind of excitement in having the principal of their school come into their home — virtually — and reading directly to them.
Certainly, the article by News-Post reporter Katryna Perera captured the wonder of Tai and Lily Duong, dressed in pajamas and nibbling on popcorn while listening to the books read by Canning.
Tai, 7, is entering second grade at Ballenger Creek Elementary, while Lily, 11, is starting sixth grade at Ballenger Creek Middle School but knew Canning from her years at the elementary school.
Last year, Canning started the night-before-school bedtime story reading after she heard about a principal in another state who had done it. Both parents and students loved the idea so much that she decided to continue it this year and read two stories instead of one.
Her idea is starting to spread around Frederick County as well. Thurmont Primary School and Carroll Manor Elementary School held their own bedtime story readings Monday night after hearing about Canning’s project.
It would be wonderful — if slightly ironic — if Canning’s praiseworthy use of social media to read to the children inspires parents to read to their own children more often.
Our hope is that parents will put aside their cellphones and tablets for a little while and pick up a book, snuggle with their children on a chair or in bed, and create a memory that will be treasured for a lifetime, both theirs and the children’s as well.