Coronavirus pandemic inspires virtual bedtime story routine


Aurora youth enjoys nightly Facebook live format

  • Chaz Boeder
    Chaz Boeder
  • “With no plans to stop for good any time (super) soon, young Chaz Boeder will continue to read a bedtime story to any and all at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live.” News-Register/Cheyenne Rowe
    “With no plans to stop for good any time (super) soon, young Chaz Boeder will continue to read a bedtime story to any and all at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live.” News-Register/Cheyenne Rowe

What started out as a way to give working moms and families a bit of a break, or even just a smile, has transformed far beyond that for young Aurora resident Chaz Boeder.

His mother, Maile Ilac-Boeder, had originally posted to Facebook, announcing that if a mother called her or The Leadership Center she and Chaz would read whomever was on the other line a bedtime story.

“Then I suggested, why don’t we do a Facebook live or something on Facebook of us reading a story,” Chaz chimed in.

They started the night after and have been reading a new book (or a new part of a book) every night since -- except for Easter, a few weekend dates when Chaz wanted to “just hang out” and when he took a longer trip to Wisconsin visiting family for a bit of a vacation.

“We went into it and we had like 13 viewers and I was really happy,” he recalled of the first night.

Despite missing his music lessons and not realizing it, the night went off without a hitch. His nightly stories became a hit.

“I don’t even remember what (story) we started with,” Maile commented. “We’ve read so many, because we read every night seven days a week for many, many weeks. The first time we took any time off was Easter.” Asked if they were going to

Asked if they were going to run out of books any time soon, Chaz replied with a “I’m close” but his mom was quick to correct him with a laugh.

“No, you’re not,” she said. “When Chaz was born we asked people not to give us gifts, or don’t give him toys, give him books. And Chaz loves to read so we have lots and lots and lots of books.”

Though story time started with mother and son reading in front of the camera, it has now moved to Chaz reading solo on screen -- with commentary and questions provided by Maile from behind the camera.

It was also Chaz who decided to keep reading stories for all to see online.

“It was (part) because I got a lot more people watching than I had before,” he said. “And I was just like ‘Oh, why don’t we keep going?’ Otherwise I was going to get calls from my cousin every night to read him a story.”

“The other thing about it was

he was like ‘This is a good thing for COVID-19,’” Maile recalled. “So he was the one who said we were going to do this until COVID is gone.”

Picking his next featured piece of literature is a relatively easy process, he agreed. Sometimes the two talk about a book they think they should read, sometimes Chaz just finds one he thinks will be fun.

“Sometimes he might even pick a book that will last three days -- like Dr. Suess,” Maile noted.

She also reported that a lot of the books Chaz picks are from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

“That’s something that’s really good to sign young kids up for,” Chaz said. “Because they get a book every single month and it’s free.”

This free book subscription service provides one book a month to children up to the age of 5. Chaz is a big fan of the program and often tells others to sign up, including some of his past foreign exchange student siblings.

When asked how it makes him feel to read to a variety of the same, and different, people every night Chaz noted that it makes him feel good.

“It makes me feel good to, not see them, but know they’re there watching and listening,” he said. “Even if they watch it after I still know they’ll watch it because it’ll come up on my mom’s phone or the iPad.”

It wasn’t really for the views, Maile voiced.

“We were just going to put it there and if people wanted to use it it would be there,” she said. Chaz explained that he also believes that it makes people happy to see these stories. His cousins and grandpa also love seeing him read. “I think it’s kind of fun,”

“I think it’s kind of fun,” Maile said. “But for us as parents it’s also really great because it’s not hard to get him to read, he’s just reading and he makes stories and sings songs.” Apparently Chaz often adds

Apparently Chaz often adds a special song to his storytime sessions, or just sings the words to the books if he feels like it. Anything to keep his audience entertained! Another piece of entertainment for viewers comes from when Chaz brings guests, or even a new location, to his nightly story.

“I’ve read with some of my friends,” he started. “I’ve read out on the dock and right as we started my friend caught a fish.”

He’s also read in the chicken coop and with Deb Miller from the Edgerton Explorit Center and her feathered friend Doc (the owl).

“He just threw it out there and said ‘Maybe Doc should come read with me,’” Maile said. “And Deb was like ‘Okay! Sure!’ It was really fun.”

Doc spent most of the story, which was conveniently about owls, with Deb but also ventured to Chaz for an extra special storytime.

“When I get back I think we might have Roy the bigger bird come out,” Chaz revealed.

A parent’s perspective

“I just think it’s been really neat to have him have a project where he gets to give back in a time when we can’t be out being and doing,” Maile said.

Chaz noted that even when the family is out for walks they often stop to say hi to people, though the lack of interaction is hard. His stories offer the chance to see a friendly face during the pandemic, he agreed.

“We started in mid-March, like the 23rd of 24th of March is when we started doing these and we’ve done them pretty consistently since,” she added. “He gets really confident and he’s not afraid to mess up. He likes to do it and he sets his schedule to it. There are days when we’re running across somewhere, we’re in a car and we’re doing it.”

No matter the time or place Chaz is down to read and has grown over the weeks of reading aloud.

“It’s been great,” she said. “He’s gotten really confident, he has no fear of talking in public. That’s been helpful, but his reading has improved too.”

Maile sent out a word of encouragement to other parents, saying that if their children want to do something like this -- let them. Many celebrities, and even friends of Chaz and Maile, have jumped on the story-reading train.

“Let them read, let them sing,” Chaz agreed. “There are people doing Facebook posts of their kid playing piano, and the grown-up singing.”

Despite being asked if he’d like to be done, Chaz has voiced his desire to continue reading every evening at 6 p.m. on Facebook live.

“No plans to stop them,” Maile said.

“But I don’t want to do it forever,” Chaz laughed.

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