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Social media helps turn page on bedtime routine

Videos of teachers, students and parents reading bedtime stories in their pyjamas are bringing one school community together.

Robert Reynolds reads a picture book while wearing pyjamas and holding a stuffed teddy bear.

Teacher Robert Reynolds reads his favourite picture book – The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz.

While the north-western NSW town of Warialda isn’t the first place you would expect to find a social media celebrity, students and staff at the local school are well on their way to becoming just that.

The Warialda Public School Facebook page has become a local sensation after principal Dan van Velthuizen started posting videos of himself reading picture books.

“The other day I had parents from another school come up to me and say ‘you’re the teacher who reads the storybooks online’,” Mr van Velthuizen said.

The videos have quickly become a tradition with a new story posted three nights a week. Many of the videos have been seen thousands of times – one video racking up more than 60,000 views on the NSW Department of Education page.

Other teachers and parents have popped on their pyjamas and had a go in front of the camera, reading classics including Pamela Allen’s Who Sank the Boat? and Aaron Blabey’s Pig the Pug.

“The number of kids bringing in books and asking if they can read them is amazing. I’ve had students bring in thumb drives they filmed at home,” Mr van Velthuizen said.

He said Year 5 student Mia, Year 3 student Ava and Kindergarten student Lacie had already taken a shot at stealing the spotlight.

“A lot of them have been practising reading because of this; practising their expression, making sure they know the words,” Mr van Velthuizen said.

The videos started as part of the school’s strategic plan to encourage active participation of parents.

Mr van Velthuizen’s end goal was now to make reading part of his students’ everyday routines – evidence shows reading at home can have benefits to all areas of children’s learning.

“The ideal reaction is that it starts a culture and a habit for those families – whether they watch the videos and talk about the stories, or if our kids follow up by reading with their parents,” he said.

The videos for the rest of Term 2 were already planned, but Mr van Velthuizen said the story scheduled for July 1 would be “really special”.

The school’s itinerant support teacher (hearing), Tamara Doyle, will read the Mem Fox classic, Time for Bed, while also signing the words in Auslan – helping make the videos accessible to all students.

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