For the Love of Reading

Valentine's Day event showcases community efforts to improve literacy in Kansas City


Kansas City, February 13, 2017: Kansas City Public Schools, My Very Own Library, Scholastic Book Fairs, United Way of Greater Kansas City, Turn the Page KC and Lead to Read KC teamed-up with students and staff at Primitivo Garcia Elementary School on Valentine’s Day to share their love of reading.

Volunteer mentors, school staff and students crowded the school library over the noon hour on Tuesday, Feb. 14 to read new children’s books from Scholastic Book Fairs. It’s a scene replicated regularly at schools across KCPS with volunteers coordinated by Lead to Read KC.

Lead to Read connects trusted, caring adult volunteers (called Readers) with kids in grades 1 through 4 from every walk of life. Once a week, for 30 minutes, Readers and kids explore the world by reading books provided by the children’s teachers, in the safety and security of an elementary school classroom.

Amid the chatter of the Primitivo Garcia Elementary School library, Kansas City Police Department Officer Chato Villalobos sat on the floor and read books with Gary, a second grader. The pair have been reading together every week thanks to the partnership between KCPS and Lead to Read KC.

“This is easily one of the highlights of my week,” Officer Villalobos said. “Gary is amazing. It’s been inspiring to see how much progress he’s made this year.”

Before the Valentine’s Day event, students created heart-shaped cards with expressions about why they love reading. The cards were then posted for inspiration on the walls of the library.

“I love reading because it makes me a better learner,” Gary said.

Tuesday’s community reading event was being held as the school’s second My Very Own Library book fair was underway. Throughout this school year, the My Very Own Library program will distribute more than 24,700 books to students in seven Kansas City Public Schools. Participating students will have the opportunity to select 10 new books over the course of three completely free Scholastic Book Fairs to build their own home libraries.