North Central News

BookPALS inspire kids to love reading

Some of the best books are meant to be read aloud. That’s the premise behind BookPALS, a unique, all-volunteer literacy program sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation whose mission is to promote the joys of reading.

Kids surround Bonnie Murphy, BookPAL, after she reads at Camelview Elementary during Read Across America Day (submitted photo).

Kids surround Bonnie Murphy, BookPAL, after she reads at Camelview Elementary during Read Across America Day (submitted photo).

Performing artists and trained community volunteers read to classes of children at public elementary schools, special events, museums, fairs, shelters, hospitals, on the telephone and online.

Unfortunately, many families can’t find the time to read together. To compensate for this, BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) use their talents to bring books to life and to get kids excited about reading.

“We don’t teach kids to read,” explains North Central resident Ellen Dean, Arizona BookPALS director. “We teach kids to love reading.”

The Arizona branch of BookPALS, started in 1998, has more than 150 volunteers serving children at 35 schools in the Phoenix metro area and Tucson. Many of the schools are in central Phoenix, with five volunteers at Madison Camelview, eight at Madison Heights, three at Madison Rose Lane, and many more throughout the Valley.

Maggie Kraft, volunteer coordinator for the Madison School District, says that, “BookPALS are such a joy to have on campus and they do such magical work in developing the love of reading for our students.”

Adults 18 and older are invited to become readers at a neighborhood school. Training and support are provided; the next training will be in January. Contact Ellen Dean at edean@bookpals.net or call 602-750-2923 for details. To learn more about the program, visit www.bookpals.net.

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