During September, KidsRead USAm will celebrate its 20th anniversary and 50,000 free books having been given to children living in poverty who attend school in the Balsz and Osborn School Districts

An illustrated medical guide for children, SEE INSIDE YOUR BODY, will be given to the 700 third-graders accompanied by their parents at KidsRead USA Family Book Breakfasts held at each of the seven schools. This special book was purchased with a grant provided by the Whiteman Foundation, a Valley foundation headed by John O. Whiteman, a philanthropist and business executive, and his three adult children. 

The Valley’s top health care professionals including physicians and surgeons will help us celebrate by being guest readers this month. 

The September KIDSREAD USA book breakfasts will feature:

Sept. 7, 8:15 a.m., Margie Nash, RN, Griffith School, 

Sept. 7 – 10:30 a.m., Dr. Kenneth Poole, MD, MBA, Encanto School

Sept. 9 – 12:30 p.m., Dawn Cohen, M.D., Solano School

Sept. 14 – 7:45 a.m., Patty Thorpe, MD and inventor, Crockett School

Sept. 15 – 8:15 a.m., Steve Chakmakian, DO, UHC Medical Director, Balsz School

Sept. 21 – 7:45 a.m., Patty Thorpe, MD and inventor, Brunson-Lee School

Sept. 28 – 12:30 p.m., Kathleen Handal, MD and author, Longview School

The Phoenix Mercury and three-time WNBA champion Penny Taylor has teamed up with KidsRead USA to launch a season-long reading initiative, “Penny Taylor: One for the Books,” designed to address childhood literacy and provide local underserved children with access to books.

“Penny Taylor: One for the Books” will celebrate the 12-year career (and counting!) of one of the franchise’s most beloved and accomplished players, while also supporting a cause that has been at the heart of Taylor’s community efforts.  For every point that Taylor scores during the 2016 regular season, the Phoenix Mercury will purchase a book, through KidsRead USA, for a third-grade student at a local Title I school.  Fans will have a chance to participate by donating new Dr. Seuss books during a book drive on June 12 as part of the Mercury’s annual Dads & Daughters game. The program will culminate at the end of the season when the Mercury distributes the books to various schools in the Valley. For many of the students, this will be the first new book that they will own.

“My love of reading began as a small child when I realized that by reading a book I could escape wherever I was, and go to any place I wished,” said Mercury forward Penny Taylor. “I could have experiences in magical places, learn amazing things and put myself in anyone’s shoes.  I hope this program will help young children develop that same passion for reading, while promoting how important reading is in education and life.”

Taylor, a three-time WNBA champion and three-time WNBA All-Star, is the team’s second all-time leading scorer, and recently re-signed to return for her 10th season in a Mercury uniform.   Taylor is also the second-longest tenured player in the history of the franchise. She will travel to Rio in July to compete in her fourth Olympic games for the Australian National Team, and has already won two silver medals and one bronze in previous Olympics. In addition to her accolades on the court, Taylor is an avid reader, who is passionate about supporting education and literacy as well as instilling a love for reading in children.

Since its inception, KidsRead USA has given away more than 40,000 books to third grade students in Phoenix, Arizona.  The program primarily serves the Balsz and Osborn school districts which are low-income areas. For many of these students, the books provided by KidsRead are the first they will own. Currently, KidsRead USA provides books for approximately 750 children, seven times a school year.

KidsReadUSA is all about sharing the love of reading to children.  In fact, the mission of KidsRead USA is to promote early childhood literacy and inspire the joy of lifelong learning to at-risk children and their families by mentoring, advocacy, and by giving children books of their own.  We inspire children to explore new worlds through the magic and joy of reading.

So if you are thinking about volunteering to read to one of our classrooms of excited students (and we really wish you would!) – or you have children or grandchildren of your own at home – here are some tips to help you engage your audience and share your love of reading:

1.       Read the Book to Yourself First.  This helps you connect to the cadence the author  created and allows you to get comfortable with the book.  It helps you screen for age appropriateness and lets you become familiar with the material.  This helps you with tip number 2…

2.       Don’t Be Afraid to Use Fun Voices!  Who likes hearing a story read by someone who is not engaged or enthusiastic?  Read with expression and change up the voices to match those in the book.  One of the most popular new books for young children is The Book Without Pictures (B.J. Novak) – because it requires the reader to use funny words and read in silly ways.  (Using props is another way to bring the reluctant listener into the story.)

3.       Re-read a good book,  again and again.  Children like and learn from repetition.  If you get too bored repeating the story – ask them to tell you what comes next or to read you part of the story.

4.       Don’t Hesitate to Read to Older Children.  Children usually listen on a higher level than they  read.  The story complexity may need to change as a child gets older, but the closeness you develop with your and the lesson of the excitement of reading will stay with them a lifetime.

5.       Have Fun!  Connect with your audience. Ask the child questions about how he or she relates to the story. Ask them to share their favorite character or part of the book. The main goal of reading should be to connect with your audience and share the love of literacy!

Here are more tips on reading with your child from the folks at Dr. Seuss:


To learn more about KidsRead USA – go to:  www.kidsreadusa.org

-          Patty Gannon, KidsRead USA Board member