Bedtime storytelling is already a big hit with pretty much every kid. But Story Time from Space found a way to literally make it out of this world. The new initiative from the non-profit Global Space Education Foundation broadcasts astronauts reading children’s books from on board the International Space Station. The zero-gravity readings are, as the recent edition of astronaut Kate Rubins reading Rosie Revere, Engineer proves, a whole lot of fun.
Patricia Tribe, the mind behind the project, told HuffPost that the idea behind the project was to merge STEM learning with literacy efforts in a way that would make perfect sense to kids. Kids and families from all over will also be able to experience the broadcast free of charge on the Story Time from Space site and YouTube.
“What better role models to engage kids in science and to engage them in reading?” said Tribe, who began the initiative after reading up on the dire state of literacy in the U.S. “You’re not only looking and listening to the books, you’re looking around the International Space Station.”
As astronauts have very tight schedules, each of the books selected for the initiative has to be able to be read in about 15 minutes. The books also have to have some kind of message or theme related to STEM while also being totally accurate. While Tribe was inspired by U.S. data, diversity and making sure that different types of children and their parents get a chance to experience the initiative is also crucial.
The program also makes sure to have the right astronauts read the right books. For instance, Tribe thought it was important that a female astronaut read Rosie Revere, Engineer, one of the 50 best children’s books of the past ten years. When the astronauts read the book Max Goes to the Space Station, they did a reading in both english and Japanese.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 18 percent of adults “performed at the lowest level of the PIAAC literacy scale,” higher than the international average of 16 percent.
STEM learning is another area in which the U.S. struggles, as well. According to a Pew Study from 2015, only “29 percent of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as above average or the best in the world.” When Pew specifically asked the American Association for the Advancement of Science the same question, they were far more critical, with only 16 percent of them making the same claim.
Let’s hope that this out-of-this-world initiative helps inspire aspiring astronauts and a love of reading, in our galaxy or another.