VIP CELEBRITIES INSPIRE ENTHUSIASM FOR READING BY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS IN LA’S HIGH RISK COMMUNITIES
By Miss Hollywood – Joell Posey-Grager
I have actively supported the efforts of the tenacious, Gary Moskovitz, an event coordinator for the “Read Across America Campaign”. I’ve volunteered as a reader at his events for the last five years and also helped recruit celebrities to participate in his reading program. Once again, I had the privilege of being a reader, this time, as the newly crowned Miss Hollywood 2015.
Gary’s “Read Across America” events are quite special and grew out of a deep concern he had regarding children who most needed reading inspiration. Gary, found there was reluctance among reading event coordinators to take on the lower income and gangland neighborhood elementary schools of South Central LA. Coordinators were concerned about the inability to recruit volunteer readers who would be willing to travel into the tough LA neighborhoods. It would also be difficult for coordinators to find financial sponsors in lower income communities to help foot the event cost. Gary, well understood the difficulties that might be involved in staging “Read Across America” events in Compton and Lynwood, but took on the challenge in spite of impending obstacles.
Gary knew the students of the high risk schools would need extra inspiration. There are many environmental distractions that can hinder a child’s long term focus towards academics. In order to shore up the message to the kids on how important reading is, Gary added a little “muscle” to increase strength in the presentation. He reached out to the VIP communities of greater LA and Hollywood requesting their participation at the “Read Across America” events he was coordinating. Gary was overwhelmed by the response from celebrities willing to be readers and travel into Compton and Lynwood in order to share their favorite books with elementary students. Through the years, the number of celebrities willing to assist elementary school teachers with inspiring the love of reading in their classrooms has grown. The list of VIP’s include Julie Andrews, Kevin Costner, John Cryer, Jim Parsons, Jessica Alba, Zachary Levi, Minnie Driver, America Ferrara, Connie Briton, Lake Bell, and Rhea Perlman among hundreds of others.