Reading For Life Kicks Off Fifth Year

Angela PritchettOct. 25, 2023

“Who can tell me about a big feeling they have sometimes?” local author Vladimir Sainte asked the first and second graders at Melcher Elementary School. As part of his visit to the school, Sainte helped the students identify emotions also felt by Will, the main character in his book Just Like a Hero. As the children raised their hands and answered “mad,” “happy,” “sad,” and “angry,” Sainte thanked them and said “My friends certainly know their feelings and that’s very good.” 

Lead to Read KC’s fifth year of Reading For Life kicked off with Sainte’s visit on October 24. This partnership with local authors encourages students to develop self-esteem and lifelong coping skills through interactive read-alouds and book giveaways at Kansas City public and charter schools. The program promotes positive mental health approaches for youth and self-regulation skills that help kids be more open and ready to learn, especially post-covid. This year, we welcome program supporter Swope Health Services as they provide coping strategies for children and caregivers.

“Using books and reading to help children manage their emotions is an important strategy as we address the mental health and wellness crisis among young people,” said Pauly Hart, Lead to Read KC Executive Director. “Lead to Read KC creates these experiences to foster creativity and a greater understanding of how emotional well-being is tied to confidence. And kids love to meet a real author.”

Our four local authors are:

  • Nikiyah Crosdale with her book The Thought Jar
  • Kristen Heath with her book We’re All Weird
  • Vladimir Sainte with his books Just Like a Hero and It Will Be Okay
  • Tony Temple with his book Animal Movements

All four of the local authors in the program have created books that support social and emotional learning skills. Lead to Read KC believes the author visits are a first step in promoting self-esteem and coping techniques for so many children who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and other trauma. Each student receives a free copy of the author’s book to take home after the read-aloud sessions. If your school is interested in scheduling an author visit for the 2023-24 school year, contact Linda Hughes at [email protected].