East Side resident Izetta Thomas, a Columbus City Schools teacher, has been reading books aloud on Facebook Live three times daily since Monday to fill her days and help others stuck home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was only Day 2 of keeping her young kids home, but Crystal Davis already was struggling to get work done.
So on Monday, when the Twinsburg resident heard that her friend Izetta Thomas, a Columbus City Schools teacher, was going to start reading books on Facebook Live, Davis was hopeful.
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"I said, `OK, let’s see if a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old will listen to this. It may go well, and it may not,’" Davis said.
In her East Side home, Thomas read "The Eensy Weensy Spider," by Troy Cummings, then "The Day You Begin," by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez.
"They sat and listened to both stories; they were captivated," Davis said of her kids. She is policy director for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a nonprofit environmental organization. "I was able to send a few emails, so it was a godsend."
Davis wasn’t alone. As of Thursday morning, Thomas’ Monday morning video had 877 views and 34 shares.
Thomas calls that "gratifying," but in reality she said she started the readings for herself. Like thousands of others, she is trying to find ways to cope with working from home (or, in her case, not working) in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, she began daily readings to young children at 9:30 a.m., older children at 1 p.m. and adults at 6 p.m. Many other people, including famous actors and authors, across the country are lending their time and voices to reading books through virtual means to lift the spirits of kids and parents alike.
"I love schedules, as anyone who knows me will tell you," said Thomas, 39, who works with special-needs children. "So I thought this would be a way of keeping that sense of normalcy for myself, as well as providing some kind of service to folks.
"The libraries are closed, and access to literature varies tremendously in our community. I have a plethora of books, so I thought, `Well, let’s try this.’"
She calls the sessions "Auntie Zettie’s Read Aloud" and mixes the readings with conversation and cameos from her dog, Willow.
To the older kids, Thomas has been reading chapters from "Children of Blood and Bone," by Tomi Adeyemi. In the evening, she chooses poetry or short stories for the adults (on Wednesday, she selected from Zora Neale Hurston’s "Hitting a Straight Lick With A Crooked Stick.")
Her friend, fellow East Side resident Charity Martin-King, said she has enjoyed tuning in.
"It has been so relaxing for me," Martin-King said. "How often do we as adults get some time and sit back and listen? I end up putting my phone on `do not disturb’ and plugging my earphones in and I lay back and listen.
"It’s very nostalgic and relaxing at a time when anxiety is high."
Thomas is happy to hear that.
"It’s nice to be able to do what I can," she said. "To hear that potentially hundreds of people are getting something from this, there’s nothing more that I could ask for."