In classes throughout the Early Education Center (EEC), tiny feet twitch and eager eyes watch with anticipation for a very special moment: the revealing of the week’s mystery reader! This year, parents were invited to record themselves reading a favorite book to share with their child’s class. The resulting videos have become a main attraction and a meaningful way for families to become involved.

“We have a different mystery reader each week,” said EEC faculty member Rachael Carter. “The children light up when they see their parent or a friend’s parent. It’s been a phenomenal way to build connections between home and school.” Part of the fun is the guessing game of who will virtually appear in the classroom. Parents enjoy choosing books that fit with a special class investigation or help celebrate a holiday. Attention to detail is key; dressing the part for Halloween, Laura Barnhart read Room On the Broom to her son William’s pre-primary class.

Hearing a familiar voice is deeply reassuring to children, as is continuing the EEC tradition of parents taking the time out of their day to read a special book to the class. “Such a fun, creative, and unique way for us to be a part of our child’s day,” said Kate Daughtry, who read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to her daughter Eliza’s pre-primary class. For Ashley Hall faculty members, it is one more way to reinforce the vital partnership between home and school. “The children’s surprise is always the best!” enthused EEC Director Betsy Quirin. “They have been loving it!” With such a supportive learning environment, the reason why is certainly no mystery.