Must-See TV: Tucked in Tuesdays have Crete Elementary Students and Families Tuning In

Must-See TV: Tucked in Tuesdays have Crete Elementary Students and Families Tuning In

By Tyler Dahlgren

Another Tuesday is winding down at Crete Elementary.

The clocks on the wall are inching towards three and there's a buzz rising in classrooms throughout the building. These kids are excited, and (plot twist!) not for the ringing of the day’s final bell.

At 3 p.m., the school secretary makes her weekly reminder over the intercom.

“Don’t forget, tonight is Tucked in Tuesdays.”

This has been the Tuesday routine since August 27th, when school librarian Dede Moore read the Mo Willems classic That is Not a Good Idea! on a Facebook stream at seven o’clock that night. The first reading has over 3,200 views to date!

“It is something fun to look forward to,” said Principal Heather Wendelin. “After the announcement on Tuesday afternoons, the kids ask us over and over ‘Who is going to be on tonight? What book are we reading tonight?’ It's just a lot of fun."

The answers to those questions are always kept a surprise. Staff members, from teachers to paras and custodians to bus drivers to lunch staff, take turns reading a children’s book of their choice on the school’s Facebook page. They’re happy to do it, and have been from the start.

“We were extremely excited,” said 2nd-grade teacher Tara Brown, who read Claire Freedman’s hit Aliens in Underpants Save the World just last week. “As soon as we received the email, we all kind of got together and asked each other which books we were going to select, just making sure there weren’t any duplicates.”

As pictured above, Mrs. Brown was joined last Tuesday by her five-year-old son, Elliot, who was thrilled to be on the video. Tucked in Tuesdays have helped Crete Elementary staff members strengthen connections with their school community’s families.

“It’s always important to have those relationships and trust, not only with your students but with your families, your community and your stakeholders,” said Wendelin. “This gets them in the door. It’s easier for us to do our jobs when we have that great relationship with each other, founded on a love for education.”

Relationships are the cornerstone of Crete Elementary’s culture, and, in addition to classrooms and community, “Tucked in Tuesdays” have enriched its hallways as well.

“Now, when a first-grader is walking down the hall, they can easily make a connection with the lunch lady because they saw her last night,” said Wendelin. “They know her by her first name. It’s so cool to see.”

Wendelin was instantly inspired by the idea, especially considering the importance of reading to children. Research shows that 20 minutes every day has a significant impact. In standardized testing and in vocabulary growth. In language development and in concentration.

“We knew we needed to reach kids through literacy,” Wendelin, whose school is both 70 percent free and reduced lunch and 70 percent ELL, said. “We have families who work in the evenings and we have families who, honestly, don’t have the educational backgrounds to be able to read to their children. What we decided to do was make a commitment to our families. Once a week.”

Students show up Wednesday morning still jazzed from the night before. That buzz from the day before has not yet subsided. They’re eager to tell teachers who they watched with. They can't wait to talk about aliens in underpants and what happens if a moose is given a marshmallow.

“I watched with my mom on Facebook!”

“I watched it with my dad and my grandma!”

Every Tuesday, more and more people tune in. The comments are overwhelmingly positive. Wendelin enjoys reading them. In fact, the staff looks forward to “Tucked in Tuesdays” with as much anticipation as the kids.

“I watch every week,” said Brown. “Like a little kid, I’m excited to see which books are my co-workers’ favorites, and I’m excited to hear them read the story.”

Tucked in Tuesdays have become so popular that Brown and many other teachers have started to show replays on Wednesday mornings for the students who might have missed the live stream.

“Since I have started doing that, I have had more kids coming into class Wednesday morning saying they had already watched it,” she said.

It’s a good problem to have.

After all, any book worth reading is worth reading twice.


To tune in to Tucked in Tuesdays, visit the Crete Elementary Facebook Page!