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    Posted February March 20, 2007

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BookPALS celebrates Read Across America Day

Equity Members Participate

J.J. Singleton (THE LITTLE MERMAID), Barbara Mundy (group coordinator), Kris Koop (PHANTOM OF THE OPERA), Nico Boccio (coordinator/volunteer) and Maria Cabezas (coordinator for NY BookPALS)

BookPALS, a program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation that brings actors into schools to read to the youngsters, celebrated Read across America Day with the National Education Association at a special Read Aloud event at Build A Bear in Manhattan on March 2, 2007. BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) is a nationwide, volunteer program begun in 1993 by actor Barbara Bain. In New York City, 150 actors read to more than 5,000 students to improve literacy in schools in all boroughs. Actors also run a Reading Club for over 2,000 students and special monthly Group Reads at more remote schools.

The March 2 event also celebrated the 50th birthday of Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat. (Did you know Dr. Seuss used only 236 to write his most famous book?) To mark the occasion students from P.S. 111 in Manhattan and BookPALS volunteers came together for a special reading event. Equity members J.J. Singleton (appearing in The Little Mermaid, coming to Broadway) and Kris Koop (from Phantom of the Opera) read aloud to the enthusiastic students. Kris said her mother always read to her when she was a youngster and she was excited to read to other children. "BookPALS helps kids discover the magic of reading from actors who are true storytellers."


Other Equity members on hand included Nico Boccio and Barbara Mundy, who has been a coordinator and reader at a monthly Group Read school in Brooklyn for the past year. During these Group Reads, she and four other actors visit five classes once a week, reading three or four books each time. Maria Cabezas, who coordinates NY BookPALS and is also an Equity member, says the goal of the program is to read to every student from Kindergarten to third grade throughout New York City.

If you would like to learn more about BookPALS or volunteer as a reader, visit the website or contact Maria Cabezas at or call (718) 833-0316.

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