Things That Matter

Two Sisters Are Using Their Black Girl Magic And Facebook Live To Read Stories To Children With Working Parents

For Latinos, the power of storytelling has a unique value. For us, stories are often used to instill a greater sense of culture and understanding of our current circumstances. Stories are told not just around the table at dinner, they’re told in car rides, during lectures, in the kitchen to supplement a recipe. But nothing quite stands the test of time as the stories told at our bedsides while we’re children. Delaware Sisters Zaria, 13, and Hailey Willard,8, know the power of this tradition well and are using the practice of reading books to help children that are younger than themselves.

The two sisters love books and reading so much that they read bedtime stories to American children on Facebook live, every night.

The Willard sisters’ primary goal is to pick out books with characters that look like them.

                                                                   @ZariaxHailey/Instagram

Once every Sunday,  the two sisters, whose love for literacy was passed on to them by their mom, Victoria, head off to their local Dover, Delaware library to pick out a week’s worth of books for their growing audience of young children online. Of course, in an age where online bullying is not only rampant but severe, their mother had hesitations. Still, the sisters were able to convince her that reading and streaming live would be worth it.

For their part, the sisters’ main goal is reaching children whose parents might not have time to read to their children at night. In a post to their Facebook page, the two girls state that “Parents sometimes work late or are too tired for stories. We are not only helping children, we are giving parents a nice break after a long day of work.”

Their love for reading is not uncommon among African American women. According to a Pew Research study, College-educated Black women in the US are the most likely people to read. They even read a bit more than educated white women. The same study, which was originally focused on the types of media formats that people read, also found that black women read more of any type of media, women from all backgrounds read more than men, and people who went to college read more than those who didn’t.

                                                              @brownbookshelf/Twitter

According to reports, African American women and girls are leading the way when it comes to reading and making changes for literacy and representation in literature.

In January 2018, Marley Dias, organizer of the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign, published her first book Marley Dias Gets It Done: So Can You, a book about social justice activism for kids. Dias, fourteen, won Smithsonian Magazine’s American Ingenuity Award in the Youth category in 2017, became known for her #1000blackgirlbooks campaign which she launched in 2015 when she was in sixth grade. The campaign brought attention to the startling lack of representation in children’s literature, to which children’s book literature agents have since responded.

                                                                 @ZariaxHailey/Instagram

This year its Delaware sisters, Zaria and Hailey, who have taken up the campaign for spreading a love for books, reading, learning, helping others, and representation. And Twitter users agree. Several gave well-deserved props to Zaria and Hailey in response to David Muir’s July 17, ABC news feature on them and their literacy project.

This Twitter user congratulated Zaria and Hailey’s parents.

https://twitter.com/KennyHargrove1/status/1151648204942925825

“That’s Dope as hell I know there parents are proud of them and shout out to there parents for raising some Beautiful young ladies..!” said @KennyHargrove1.

Esa señora agrees that the two are changing the world

https://twitter.com/angelimaquilim1/status/1151716513537298432

“That is so precious! Thank you girls for what you do! You’re changing the world.”

Another Twitter user found what Zaria and Hailey are doing “inspiring.”

https://twitter.com/TDKdweller/status/1151644941702979584

“Very inspiring, keep up the good work girls.”

What are Zaria and Hailey doing next? Continuing their work on a children’s book series and moving their storytime from 8:30 to 8:00 PM once school starts up again after summer.

In their own words, “We have huge plans for our ventures and we hope you follow along and share with your network of people. We are brown girls who read!!”

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