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Books, cookies and good clean fun

Former TV star donates time to read to children at Borders in Valencia

Posted: March 11, 2009 1:15 a.m.
Updated: March 11, 2009 10:00 a.m.

Kim Fields reads a Thomas the Tank Engine book to a group of children Saturday at the Valencia Borders bookstore. Fields, an actress and Valencia resident, has been reading to young children at the bookstore every Saturday at 11 a.m. since January.

 
Kim Fields' eyes widened and her voice rose an octave as she read "Gingerbread Baby" aloud to a group of children at the Valencia Borders bookstore.

"‘(Gingerbread Baby) jumped up and tweaked his nose.' Let me see you tweak your nose," Fields said Saturday as she scrunched her own nose and enlisted the attentive group to do the same.

Fields is an actress known for her roles as Tootie Ramsey on the nine-year NBC sitcom "The Facts of Life" and as Regine Hunter on the 1990s FOX sitcom "Living Single." A resident of Valencia for the past year, she spends an hour of her Saturdays reading children's books to excited little ones at Borders. She and the bookstore will soon launch a new story time for "tween" girls.

"She's an actress. She embellishes (when she reads) - kids get that," said Kenny Clark of Stevenson Ranch, whose girlfriend's 5-year-old daughter, Emily Soto, sat in for story time.

Emily Soto said she looks forward to the weekly event because of the cookies and milk - and she likes to read.

"(Emily) gets to listen to stories, color, interact with other kids," said Emily's mother, Stacy Soto of Stevenson Ranch. "She's an only child so she likes to get social interaction with other kids."

Fields has read on Saturdays at the bookstore since January.

"I just really enjoyed the idea of being ‘the story lady,'" she said last Saturday at the event. "It's fun to read to children, to see they're already excited about books and sparking the imagination."

She has her own son, Sebastian, 22 months, whom she reads to often.

Eighty-two percent of parents with children 8 years old and younger say they read a book out loud to their kids daily, according to a study of 694 parents nationwide commissioned by Hooked on Phonics. The study was released earlier this month.

The study also found that parents read more than eight books per week to their children. Fifty-five percent of those respondents said the mother is the primary reader and 24 percent said both parents are the primary readers.

"The one thing that's really been exciting week after week is the dad turnout," Fields said. "We're so trained to think it's something just moms do, or that Saturdays are ‘dad's time.' It's nice to see dads breaking down so many of the stereotypes. It's neat to see that type of involvement."

Rashid Hassan of Castaic said his daughter Dayna, 4, is anxious to attend story time every week.

"She really likes it," he said. "She reads a lot."

In a few weeks, Fields plans to start reading for the pre-teen scene.

"As a resident out here and member of a church out here, I'm learning there are a lot of (pre-teen) young ladies in the area," Fields said.

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