NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jan. 23 is National Reading Day, and 41 Action News was proud to take part in a special way.
The staff raised enough money to buy nearly 800 books to donate to a local school.
To celebrate, 41 Action News Chief Meteorologist Gary Lezak and morning anchor Taylor Hemness visited Winnwood Elementary in North Kansas City to read to students and help them pick out new books.
The sound of cheers and applause greeted Gary and Taylor when they walked into two different classrooms at Winnwood to read with 1st and 3rd graders.
The students were great listeners, asked dozens of great questions, and excitedly explained why they love to read.
"What I love about reading is there's always these questions in books," 1st grader Cheyenne said. "Like why and who, she and he, and like the narrator books, I like those."
An entire room at the school was transformed into a free bookstore, with students able to choose from dozens of different titles.
"I think it helps them in knowing to pick books that they love, and things that are fun to them, or interesting to them,” Rachel Gates, a 3rd grade teacher, said. “So it's important to be excited about what you're reading, and then you don't give up on it."
"Even with the expansion of digital reading, and all of those things, it's just really imperative, particularly at the elementary level, kindergarten through 5th grade, that our children are reading with actual paper books as well," Winnwood Principal Dr. Leah Copeland said.
The kids already have big plans for their books, including reading to their younger siblings. But on this National Reading Day, the school wants adults in the home to know how important it is that they read as well.
"Read to them, and have them read to you," Copeland said. "Them hearing parents read, or having the opportunity to read out loud to their parents, there's a lot of research that shows that that really, really helps advance students' reading quickly."
Here's a tip that Gary and Taylor learned on their trip to Winnwood: Adults don't have to do voices, but it definitely helps.
Combined, the employees of 41 Action News' parent company Scripps raised more than $315,000 nationwide for the "If You Give a Child a Book" campaign.