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Family-friendly BookFest, Downtown L.A.

As part of the March 2013 celebrations for the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, Grand Park has created Grand Park’s Downtown BookFest, a multi-faceted, multi-generational community event that salutes the enjoyment of reading and the importance of literacy.  Grand Park’s Downtown BookFest takes place on Saturday, March 2, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, from Grand Avenue to Hill Street (Blocks One and Two of the park).  Park visitors will enjoy a wide variety of activities inspired by the simple pleasures of reading a good book under the blue sky in an urban green setting.

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Designed for families and book lovers of all ages, Grand Park’s Downtown BookFest features readings from independent book stores, children’s story circles, crafts for children, musical performers, food trucks and other activities based on the power of the written word.  In addition, Grand Park will inaugurate four little free lending libraries, which are miniature libraries that operate on the honor system, allowing visitors to “take a book, leave a book.”  The concept, spearheaded by the nonprofit organization, Little Free Library, is a grass roots movement to encourage reading and provide easy access to books.

Activities at Grand Park’s Downtown BookFest include:

• Readings and a pop-up book store presented by The Last Bookstore and Writ Large Press, representing the authors and publications of 25 Los Angeles-based independent publishers;
mail-1• Book sales and literacy information provided by non-profit writing and tutoring center, 826 LA;
• Book swaps and giveaways by Libros Schmibros;
• Children’s crafts presented by the Central Library and Ryman Arts, which provides teens with free access to visual arts education;
• Performances by DJs Phyz Ed and Danny Holloway;
• Performance by bilingual children’s author, educator and recording artist, José Luis-Orozco; and
• Presentation by the first poet laureate of Los Angeles, Eloise Healey, who was named to this newly created position by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in December 2013.  Healey will open the event and read from some of her poetry.

Visitors will also enjoy food provided by three popular food trucks, including The Lobos Truck (American), Mandoline Grill (Vietnamese) and Cool Cow (ice cream).

Current park programs include Lunchtime Yoga retreat (Wednesdays and Fridays) as well as Lunchtime Concerts in Grand Park (Tuesdays).  More information and an event calendar can be found at http://grandparkla.org/

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Read Across America Day With Mariette Hartley & Jerry Sroka

Actors Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka also happen to be husband and wife. Find out below why this happy couple is turning a new page and teaming up with SAG on Read Across America Day, March 2, 2012.

Photo Credit: Forrest Rogers

Through the SAG Foundation’s literacy program BookPALS, Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka will be reading a book to children’s classrooms at Sunny Brae Elementary School in Los Angeles on the afternoon of March 2nd – Read Across America Day.

About the SAG Foundation: In 2011, 2,000 actors served more than 100,000 children through their award winning literacy programs. For nearly two decades, the SAG Foundation has championed children’s literacy through its core program, BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) to learn more visit www.sagfoundation.org.  In honor of Read Across America, the SAG Foundation has twenty literacy events taking place across the country. For over 10 years, the SAG Foundation has hosted literacy events to celebrate RAAD.

Through the SAG Foundation’s literacy program BookPALS, Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka will be reading a book to children’s classrooms at Sunny Brae Elementary School on the afternoon of March 2nd – Read Across America Day.

As a children’s book reviewer and avid reader, I love everything about books, from the crisp sound of a turning page to the detailed artwork on a bookjacket. Whether we read them in a book, on a Kindle, iPad or smart phone app, a great story moves us so we celebrate them on Read Across America Day. That’s why Mariette Hartley and her husband Jerry Sroka got involved in RAAD through the Sceen Actors Guild. They both believe “in the power of reading and the extraordinary lives that open up when you read.”

If I go back a few decades, but not as far back as illuminated manuscripts, my earliest memory of a favorite picture book is Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Somehow the monkeys and the beret-like caps appealed to me. So naturally I wondered if Hartley or her husband could recall any of the books that were read to them or any that they loved as children. Hartley recalled being read The Rose Red Book of Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham while Sroka had no recollection of any one particular book being read to him. He did however remember reading The Lou Gehrig Story and The Babe Ruth Story, over and over again. Hartley also said that The Red Shoes, Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale, prompted her to pursue an acting career. For Sroka it was the Thor Heyerdahl adventure, Kon-Tiki.

It’s also no coincidence that Read Across America Day falls on beloved author Theodor Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) birthday. Both Hartley and Sroka have named Dr. Seuss as one of their all-time favorite authors. Frankly, it’s hard to find anyone over the age of three who cannot name one of Seuss’s books. Another top pick of Hartley and Sroka would have to be the prolific and talented Jane Yolen (of How Do Dinosaurs… ? series, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and Owl Moon fame).

By participating in a reading at a local elementary school on March 2, this couple is showing their commitment to literacy. In order to get more kids interested in reading, especially boys, beyond elementary school they think that kids must be read to, not only in grade school but before as babies. “Then, hopefully they’ll catch the [reading] bug. But, don’t force it, make it fun and full of humor and imagination,” say Hartley and Sroka. That’s the main reason why as parents and now as grandparents, these two actors continue to read the ever popular tales:The Cat in the Hat, Eloise, Goodnight Moon, and Amelia Bedelia.

Let today be your day to take some time away from electronics and snuggle up with your child to share a good book.

About Mariette: Emmy® Award-winning actress Mariette Hartley is recognized as one of the most versatile actresses in the industry through her impressive career in television, film and theatre.  Currently recurring on “Law & Order: SVU.” A three-time Clio Award winner for her Polaroid commercials with James Garner, she also hosted the “CBS Morning Program” and is currently hosting her tenth season of “Wild About Animals. “Mariette also just finished doing a play in Cleveland called Ten Chimneys.

About Jerry: Jerry Sroka’s credits include: the Boston and New York stage versions of “Godspell” and the Columbia Pictures film version, “As You Like It,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Charles Grodin’s “One of the All Time Greats,” at the Vineyard and “Dreyfus In Rehearsal” directed by Garson Kanin. He wrote and appeared in the long running “Dying for Laughs” at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Published by Samuel French it has recently seen productions in Atlanta, N.Y. and Connecticut. Jerry just finished writing a screen play about Senior Softball and did a Disney TV show called Shake It Up.”


About Mariette: Emmy® Award-winning actress Mariette Hartley is recognized as one of the most versatile actresses in the industry through her impressive career in television, film and theatre.  Currently recurring on “Law & Order: SVU,” Hartley has also recurred on the FX series, “Dirt” and has appeared in many television shows including recent appearances on “Big Love,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Cleaner” and “Saving Grace”.  She has starred in such movies for television as “Silence of the Heart” and “MADD: The Candy Lightner Story.”  A three-time Clio Award winner for her Polaroid commercials with James Garner, she also hosted the “CBS Morning Program” and is currently hosting her tenth season of “Wild About Animals.”  Hartley’s recent stage appearances include “Ten Chimneys” at the Cleveland Playhouse and the Broadway production of “Cabaret.”

One of the last young performers chosen by MGM Studios to be groomed for motion picture stardom, Hartley conquered Hollywood in Sam Peckinpah’s classic “Ride the High Country” and her other film roles include Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie,”  “Encino Man,” “1969” and “Improper Channels.”

About Jerry: Jerry Sroka’s credits include: the Boston and New York stage versions of “Godspell” and the Columbia Pictures film version, “As You Like It,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Charles Grodin’s “One of the All Time Greats,” at the Vineyard and “Dreyfus In Rehearsal” directed by Garson Kanin. He wrote and appeared in the long running “Dying for Laughs” at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Published by Samuel French it has recently seen productions in Atlanta, N.Y. and Connecticut. Other appearances include, “Rumors” in Las Vegas, “Chapter Two” the Woodstock Playhouse, “Wings” the Eastside Playhouse, in NY. TV credits include… “Shameless,” “Shake It Up” “West Wing,” “The Division,” “Seinfeld,” “Providence,” “Party of Five,” and “Philly”.  His voice can be heard on “The Life and Times of Tim,” “Antz,” “Rugrats,” Family Guy”, “The Wild Thornberrys”, and the video game Mafia II.  Jerry and his wife, Mariette Hartley appeared together in “The 60’s” at the Pacific Resident Theatre Company  and in Mr. Sroka’s second play, “In the Wings” in L.A. He appeared in the short film “The Physics of Fathers” playing opposite his son, Warren who wrote and produced. His daughter Ash is an actress and choreographer.

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Target Free Reading Event on Feb. 26

image002Target to Celebrate Reading with an In-Store Family Event

Los Angeles-area families are invited to attend this fun and free reading event on Feb. 26

What: Target Corp. will host a fun-filled reading event for families in celebration of reading and the National Education Association’s Read Across America program. Target’s “Who Reads? We Read!” events will be free at all Target stores and include a Dr. Seuss-inspired reading nook, activity packets for children, readings by Target team members, giveaways and more. As part of the festivities, families will be able to enjoy Dr. Seuss classics such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and I Can Read with My Eyes Shut.

Education is at the heart of Target’s 5 percent giving program. Since 2003, Target has supported the Read Across America program, which calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on or around March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. Target’s partnership with the National Education Association is just one example of the company’s commitment to education and its focus on helping more U.S. children learn to read proficiently by the end of third grade, which is a critical milestone on the path to graduation. As part of that commitment, Target plans to donate $1 billion in education-related giving by the end of 2015.

When: Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011

Where: 9 to 11 a.m.

Be sure to look for signs pointing you in the right direction.

For more information, visit Target.com/ReadAcrossAmerica

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Oh, The Fun You Can Have!

event_detailread-across-america-logoLooking for something fun and free to do this weekend? Well if you and your kids are fans of books and love to read, head over to your nearest Target. Oh all the places you’ll go!

This Saturday, February 27, 9 – 11 a.m., all Target stores nationwide will host free in-store events including readings by volunteers and local notables, reading activities and giveaways.

imagesTarget has partnered with the National Education Association to support the Read Across America program. Click here for more information on the Read Across America program at Target. Just in case you were wondering, the Dr. Seuss theme honors the birthday of beloved author Theodor Geisel, (aka Dr. Seuss) born on March 2, 1904.

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