To say that 2020 has been a difficult year would be an understatement. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, homes have become offices, classrooms, movie theaters, playgrounds, and therapists' offices, blurring all sorts of boundaries and making it extra difficult for young children to understand what's going on around them. That's where actress Molly Sims thinks reading can help, as books can explain uncertainty and hardships to kids in a way that most people struggle to put into words. And in an effort to spread the importance of reading in these unprecedented times to other families, Sims decided to partner up with Epic, a digital library for kids. "They've given these kids a curated selection [of books] to really hone in on issues that these kids are facing now," she tells Woman's Day.
Before Epic even approached Sims about a possible partnership, she had been using the digital library for her own kids — Brooks, 8, Scarlet, 5, and Grey, 3 — to help them better understand how they may be feeling about the pandemic. She says she loves that Epic organizes its books by age range and grade level, noting that having a curated digital library is very useful as kids around the country adjust to learning via Zoom, attending school while social distancing, or a hybrid of the two.
"They've been at home so long, they don't really know what it's like being back and [are] scared to go back in this scary situation," Sims says. "Having that library and [those] suggested books-for-age-group are really, really important."
We’ve officially hit the point where my Brooksie is reading to me @epic4kids. 🙈 BEST. DAY. EVER. I got to go back to my hometown today! Thank you @epic4kids for making dreams come true and gifting these 4th graders and Mrs. Melinda of North Calloway Elementary school in MURRAY KY☺️ Reading is everything and thank you for making this happen! #Epic4Kids #ReadShareConnect You guys are amazing and thank you for letting me be apart of giving back!
A post shared by Molly Sims (@mollybsims) on Oct 8, 2020 at 4:37pm PDT
As important as reading is, buying new books constantly can be expensive and going to the library may not be high on your to-do list during the pandemic. In an effort to make reading more accessible to an underserved community, Sims and Epic provided the entire fourth grade class at North Calloway Elementary School in the actress' hometown of Murray, KY, with Google Chromebooks and a free one-year subscription to Epic's digital library. In a press release, Sims said she wanted to make the back-to-school transition easier for kids this year and encourage them to continue learning and reading, even in these difficult times.
Beyond just helping kids cope with the unpredictable world around them right now, Sims also feels like reading can build a foundation that allows children to excel in other parts of their lives. Reading is a part of every subject kids will take throughout their edication — yes, even math — and the ability to understand what they're reading is crucial to truly learning the subject matter in front of them. "When you get over the hard part, over that hump, and you start comprehending what you're reading, you realize that you can learn and get lost," Sims says.
A post shared by Molly Sims (@mollybsims) on Sep 8, 2020 at 12:55pm PDT
Sometimes, however, it takes more than just getting lost in a new book to help kids cope with what they're feeling, especially now. It's a scary time for a lot of people and for kids even more so because it's harder for them to understand why things are the way they are. So, Sims also tries to push her children to talk about their feelings by asking open-ended questions that they can't just provide one-word answers to, like what the best and worst parts of their days were. Or she'll take their reading a step further and encourage her kids to read something that specifically tackles the emotions they might be feeling.
Fear, uncertainty, and loneliness are just a few of the feelings kids may be encountering right now. "They get scared [of] the unknown, of not doing what they were normally doing, and now it gets almost overwhelming when they start to kind of go back," Sims says. But distractions can go a long way for kids who haven't yet learned how to talk about their emotions or work through them, which is one of the reasons why reading can be so helpful. "Reading is power," she says, "and power is knowledge."
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