What began in 1993 with actress Barbara Bain (Mission Impossible) reading to groups of children in a park in Los Angeles has grown into a national volunteer literacy program consisting of hundreds of actors reading to children Title 1 schools every month as SAG-AFTRA Foundation BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools).
The Los Angeles BookPALS branch now stretches across the Southland from Ventura to Irvine. BookPALS volunteers read to assigned classes weekly in grades pre-K through 5th grade. Most Los Angeles BookPALS read aloud to two classes each week with a few superstars reading up to to nine classes every week!
“There is no better training for animation,” says South Bay BookPAL and actor Mark Neely. “I thought I was doing a really good job, and one day a little fourth-grade girl looks at me with a straight face and says, ‘Can you read with a little more enthusiasm? I think it will improve the book.’ And I was like, ‘What?!’ Turns out she was exactly right, and I realized I have to give it my all every time I read.”