Posts Tagged ‘BookPALS’

Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools

At the time of year when folks are blowing dust off their copies of “The Night Before Christmas” to read to the little tykes, there is more reading aloud going on than at any other time. Conversely, as schools are winding up the last days of classes for 2010, it is hard to reconcile the fact that kids are going through the grades, promoted each year, and coming out the other side unable to read.

BookPALS is an organization made up of professional actors who volunteer to “adopt” two classrooms in the cities where they live, and once a week, go into those classrooms and read aloud to the kids. Over 2,000 dedicated BookPALS volunteers across the nation serve more than 100,000 preschool to 5th grade students weekly by reading aloud at public schools, hospitals and cultural institutions. BookPALS is the core of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s Children’s Literacy Initiative, and recognizes that actors are gifted storytellers and can bring literature to life, making reading and writing and creativity exciting and cool. To volunteer as a reader, or to donate to support this great program that is thriving across the nation, visit

And when you get home tonight, if there are kids there trying to finish final projects or study for final exams before the holiday break—see how you can help.


The world comes alive more completely and imaginatively between leaves of paper much more than on any screen. Second only to pure, user-generated imagination, the creativity to which children find access  in books is second to none—yet literacy is still a challenge. A kid who doesn’t like to read is a kid who hasn’t yet been properly introduced to reading.

BookPALS is a reading aloud program staffed by volunteers from the professional acting community via the performers’ union, the Screen Actors Guild. Professional actors adopt classrooms and visit weekly to read to kids in the kindergarten through fifth grade level. The actors get to reach out and even use some of their dialects and trained voice work, and the kids get barriers blown away as the world opens wider with the turn of each page. Over 100,000 kids are served every week through chapters in a dozen cities.There are also phone lines and websites with recorded readings so kids can access imagination any time.

BookPALS is founded on a clear premise: children must be exposed to the magic of books to develop a love of reading. Who better to make that magic come alive than actors gifted in the art of storytelling?