Photo of third grader reading in front of virtual fireplace goes viral

A photo of a third grader reading in front of a virtual fireplace is getting lots of love from people on social media.

Every day after lunch and recess, the students at Indian Hill Elementary in Cincinnati have what’s called “refresh and reflect time.” Teachers turn off the classroom lights and give students 15 to 20 minutes to “refresh their bodies, reflect on the morning and get ready for the afternoon,” third grade teacher Mari Mileham said.

“They can read, they can draw or they can create something quietly,” Mileham told “Good Morning America.” “It’s quiet time to be mindful and get ready for the afternoon.”

On May 10, Mileham was walking around her classroom during refresh and reflect time when she noticed that one of her students, Eli Bey, had his Chromebook out. When she went over to check on what he was doing, she saw him reading in front of a virtual fireplace.

“I’ve never given them this idea,” Mileham said, adding that Eli had headphones plugged in so he could listen to the fireplace crackle as he read. “How cool — Eli is just self-regulating. This is all him and his idea.”

Mileham then — with Eli’s permission — took a photo of him with the fireplace up and shared it with his family the day before she posted it on Twitter, where it has now gone viral.

“The reaction I got was amazing,” she said. “It was all positivity.”

According to Mileham, Eli told her that he pulled up the virtual fireplace because he wanted to, in his words, “spice up his reading” and that it makes him feel safe and calm.

“This little guy … he’s like an old soul,” Mileham said.

Eli’s mother, Janee Bey, said “something sort of quirky and mature” like reading in front of a virtual fireplace is “very fitting” for him.

“That’s just his personality. He’s an old soul and he’s creative. He’s quiet about it — he’s not looking for the attention — he’s doing his thing,” Bey told “GMA.”

“He loves to read. He’s a really avid reader,” she said, adding that her son enjoys the “Harry Potter” and “Percy Jackson” series.

Eli’s choice of in-school ambience might have something to do with the environment he reads in at home. Bey said that her family has a gas fireplace that her son likes.

“He has definitely been known to lay on the floor in his robe and turn that on and read his book,” she said.

As for the reaction the photo of Eli is receiving, Bey said that it’s amusing more than anything else to her and her family.

“It didn’t seem so remarkable to us,” she said. “That’s just him — he’s an old soul.”

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