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Miss Hollywood Loves to Read!

VIP CELEBRITIES INSPIRE ENTHUSIASM FOR READING BY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS IN LA’S HIGH RISK COMMUNITIES

By Miss Hollywood – Joell Posey-Grager

Romi Dames (Hannah Montana and Winx Club), Marg Helgenberger (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Mr. Brooks) and I

Romi Dames (Hannah Montana and Winx Club), Marg Helgenberger (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Mr. Brooks) and I

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.

With Missi Pyle (Gone Girl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Artist and Big Fish)

With Missi Pyle (Gone Girl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Artist and Big Fish)

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.

Read Across America With Angela Laird!

Angela-Laird-Miss-Contra-Costa-1Hi everyone! I am Angela Laird, Miss Contra Costa County 2015. In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday today, I wanted to talk to you about the importance of education, reading, and never giving up. My mother has been an elementary school teacher for almost 25 years. Now, growing up with a teacher for a mom wasn’t always easy. You most likely had extra homework during the summer, and you couldn’t get away with anything bad at school because your teacher would talk about you to your mom in the teacher’s lounge. Regardless of the downsides, I would not change my mom’s profession for anything. Her passion for education has given me a passion for education and learning. From a young age, I was taught to read from Dr. Seuss books. By learning how to read early, I was given an educational advantage. Reading just 20 minutes a day can help improve writing skills, listening skills, and can help to expand your vocabulary. Reading is the foundation of learning.

While it’s not my platform, encouraging children to read is a duty that I have taken on as Miss Contra Costa County. Being heavily influenced by my mother’s love for education, I can’t help but take a role in bettering the education of my community’s children. I have a working partnership with my county’s library, and just the other day I was given the opportunity to read at one of our local libraries as a guest storyteller. I loved watching the children’s faces light up as I turned the page and to watch them so enthralled by a story brought a smile to my face.

Angela-Laird-Miss-Contra-Costa-2As we celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, also known as “Read Across America Day”, it is worthwhile to remember his perseverance. Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, tried to get his first book And to Think I Saw it On Mulberry Street published 27 times and each time it was rejected. To me, he is a role model and shows that you should never give up on a dream. Can you imagine what our schools would be like if he had given up?

One day, I hope to follow in Dr. Seuss’s footsteps and write my own book. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook asks, “What could you do if you were unafraid?” and with the confidence I’ve gained through the Miss America Organization and my love of reading, I will one day be a published author in the genre of fiction. I am unafraid of failing because we can achieve whatever we put our minds to! Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for inspiring us and teaching us to love reading. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

xoxo Miss Contra Costa County