TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — When the COVID-19 crisis catapulted Florida students into distance learning overnight, it led to an early start to the traditional summer slide.
But now, a group in Florida is working to close that gap with an online reading series with a new online library and some local celebrities helping kids get back in the spirit of learning.
Tina Ratel's kids attend Sabal Palm Elementary in Tallahassee.
"We are in a pandemic, not everyone can run out and buy books," said Ratel. "Books aren't cheap."
She found out about the Children's Home Society of Florida's new online reading series, "Storytime with CHS," through her children's school.
While she says she loves to read with her kids, it isn't always realistic.
"Parents don't always have the time to sit down and read with them, but because they do have that, there's someone there,"Ratel said.
That's where this statewide organization devoted to helping children and families comes in.
Cecka Rose Green is the regional executive director for CHS of the Big Bend region.
"This is a wonderful way that if you have to put them in front of a tablet or computer, they are listening and learning and gaining those precious word skills," said Green.
Their virtual library features honorary readers including"Goodnight Miami," read aloud by Miami Dolphins Running Back #32 Patrick Laird.
"It is helping children and their families find constructive things to do," Green said.
It's a resource Ratel says she's grateful for.
"The gift of education is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids," said Ratel.
Children's Home Society of Florida continues to build the virtual library and invites members of the community to become involved.
Those interested in learning how to be part of Storytime with CHS can get more information on their Facebook page, available here.