Story and Photographs by Denise Gary

Kids Need to Read (KNTR) is heading up a reading program this coming week (Tuesday, February 17, 2015 and Wednesday, February 18, 2015) at several Phoenix area schools and organizations. Books and Highlights magazines will be provided to participating children, as well as a Build-a-Book presentation by author/illustrator Steven Riley. Partners in this community literacy effort include Highlights for Children, Arizona Coyotes Hockey Club, Keith and Kristyn Yandle, Phoenix Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club, Pi Beta Phi Foundation, John F. Long Foundation, Sundt Foundation, and Elephants Remember Joplin.

Mr. Riley delivers an extraordinarily entertaining program focused on creating story, which always leaves children craving to write their own tales. The last time KNTR hosted Mr. Riley at a school was a little over a year ago at Children First Academy–Tempe. Afterward, School Counselor Todd Kemmerer sent this note:

The highlight of the year was having guest speakers like Steven Riley visit our school. His high energy, extremely engaging storytelling and humor made a huge impression on the students. The excitement generated was not only for the books he wrote but for each student now wanting to write their own stories and create their own unique characters, which was truly amazing.

In addition to beautiful hardcover books and Highlights magazines, all participating children will be sent home with a “reading tips” flyer to inspire their families to “READ Together.” READ Together is a new KNTR program which aims to inspire adult caregivers to read to their children—an activity so vital to building high reading proficiency levels. Through a generous gift by Highlights for Children, KNTR is able to provide Highlights and Highlights High Five magazines to all children participating in the READ Together program. These magazines are literacy-rich and eagerly received by adult caregivers with fond memories of reading them in their childhood.

Following is information about the schools and organizations benefiting from this week’s program, and those who helped KNTR make each donation possible:

Children First Academy–Phoenix, charter school for homeless and impoverished children:
Steven Riley will be presenting to the kindergarten through fifth grade classes, and KNTR will be providing a book and Highlights magazine to each student. In addition, KNTR will be giving class sets of books to the academy’s after school program, as well as literacy-themed art prints to the school’s library. The class sets of books were made possible by generous gifts from John F. Long Foundation and Sundt Foundation as part of KNTR’s Kids-N-Peace program.

Brunson-Lee Elementary School–Phoenix, public school serving low socioeconomic area:
Steven Riley will be presenting to the second grade students. Phoenix Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club enthusiastically raised funds for KNTR throughout 2014, and together with matching grants from Pi Beta Phi Foundation, sponsored the cost of the books Kids Need to Read is providing to the children. In addition, KNTR will be providing Highlights magazines to the elementary school’s entire student body through fifth grade.

Homeward Bound–Phoenix, transitional housing and social services for families with children fleeing domestic violence and/or homelessness:
Steven Riley will be presenting to the families living in the facilities. Arizona Coyotes Hockey Club, along with Arizona Coyotes player Keith Yandle and wife Kristyn Yandle, kindly sponsored Mr. Riley’s travel and the books for the children. Mr. and Mrs. Yandle will be on hand to read to the kids after Mr. Riley’s presentation. Each child will also receive a reading buddy, handmade and donated by Elephants Remember Joplin, as well as Highlights magazines.

Children First Academy–Tempe, charter school for homeless and impoverished children:
Steven Riley will be presenting to the kindergarten through fourth grade classes. Kids Need to Read will be providing a book and Highlights magazine to each participating student.

Kids Need to Read sincerely thanks the many enthusiastic supporters who made this program possible. Inspiring children to read at an early age allows them to begin the process of utilizing reading to shape their lives and attain a successful future.


One Response to “Kids Need to Read Inspires Phoenix Area Students to Read”

  1. Gary Mlodzik on February 17th, 2015 9:59 pm

    Steven Riley is one of a kind and a true blessing to literary education. With his flair for presentation, not only the kids but any adults in attendance will be positively impacted. Thank you Steven for sharing your gifts.

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