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Reading spotlights Disney event

Laura Sturza

Movies and TV are often held responsible for the demise of reading

among children. But a Disney partnership with schools aims to show

kids that books -- like motion pictures -- make for great adventures.


Belle, the star of “Beauty and the Beast,” and an avid reader in

the film, visited McKinley, Providencia and Edison elementary schools

this week to tell a story from a favorite book with her sidekick,

Pierre, a village peddler.


“You can travel to a distant land, conquer a villain, rescue a

princess and have countless adventures whenever you want,” Belle told

the children. “All you need is a good book, a comfy chair, and maybe

a good friend to share it with.”

The performers told and acted out “The Legend of the Viking

Castle,” complete with sound effects by volunteers from the student

audience, showing students that books can be cool.

“In second grade, I used to like reading,” said Estephany Ramirez,


8. “Now that I’m in third grade, I don’t read as much. Now that I saw

the show, [I feel] like I should read more often. When you read a

book ... you could imagine all the things that are happening.”

As part of Disney’s community outreach initiative, the studio

sends employee volunteers to schools to work one-on-one with students

to improve their reading skills.

“They have someone to talk with about what they’re reading, [and]

it helps them with comprehension,” McKinley second-grade teacher Dena


Dissmeyer said. “All the children who have tutors have really

improved [their] reading skills.”

Through its outreach efforts, the studio aims to encourage parents

to read with their children, Disney spokeswoman Michelle Bergman

said. As part of the initiative, Disney is donating one million books

to children from low-income families so they can have a new book of

their own, she said.