Meghan Ely and her eight-year-old son, Oliver, travel every night. Sometimes they’re on the train to Hogwarts castle, other times they tour the kooky metropolis of Dog Man and Cat Kid.
“We look forward to this ritual,” Ely says. “Reading gives us a chance to end the day on a positive note, no matter how it goes.”
After more than a year of virtual school and pandemic stress bearing down on them, reading has become a much-needed escape for families like the Elys. “Reading stories, especially fantasy, is a ‘social vaccination’ against all the restrictions because they help children find a way to exit what COVID-19 put into play,” says Prisco Piscitelli, UNESCO Chair on Health Education and Sustainable Development, who co-authored a 2020 study on the link between reading children’s literature and wellbeing. And after a recent study by Stanford University found that reading fluency is lagging by about 30 percent during the pandemic, especially for second- and third-graders, getting kids back to books is more important than ever.