Getting kids interested in reading is the goal of the BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) Story Online program, an internet-based literacy campaign sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. As part of the volunteer program, professional actors and other public figures are recorded reading popular children’s books. These recordings then are made available to students through the BookPALS web site. At press time, students could read along with Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood as he tells the story of “Me and My Cat,” written by well-known children’s author Satoshi Kitamura, or follow former Vice President Al Gore as he reads from William Selig’s “Brave Irene.” Each book on the site is hand-picked by BookPALS National Program Director Ellen Nathan, a former teacher and librarian. Every selection comes with an accompanying lesson plan and activity guide. The program is aimed toward students in schools where the student population is predominantly made up of socio-economically disadvantaged children who demonstrate low scores on standardized literacy tests.

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