December 10, 2009

Celebrity Readings Kick Off Book Fair to Benefit UAMS Head Start

 Craig O'Neill
Craig O’Neill “fell” before beginning his book reading to UAMS Head Start children.

Dec. 10, 2009 | Today’s THV news anchor and funnyman Craig O’Neill “accidentally” fell down at a Barnes & Noble book reading as UAMS Head Start preschoolers watched in surprise.

When he repeated the clumsiness, the 4-and 5-year-olds broke into side-splitting laughter – a fun start to a children’s book reading in a style that is uniquely O’Neill’s.

O’Neill was one of several local celebrities who volunteered to read at the Barnes & Noble Book Fair on behalf of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Head Start children.

UAMS runs the Head Start-Early Head Start program in Pulaski County, serving 1,090 students from low-income homes. Barnes & Noble each year selects a community project to support through its book fairs and this year selected the UAMS Head Start program.

Barnes & Noble at 11500 Financial Center Parkway in Little Rock is hosting the book fair through its 11 p.m. closing Dec. 10. A percentage of its book sales will be dedicated to UAMS Head Start’s annual holiday toy fund, called Stuff The Stockings, benefiting preschoolers during the holidays.

Other readers were KARK Channel 4’s Bob Clausen, Jancey Sheats, Sonseeahray Tonsall and Melissa Simas. Each reader spent 10-15 minutes engaging the Head Start preschoolers with readings in the cozy children’s section of the Little Rock book store.

The children also played their parts to perfection: sitting in rapt attention, laughing, shouting (on cue), squirming (just a little), and applauding their readers.

If you would like your Barnes & Noble purchases to support the toy fund, simply tell the store’s cashier. Head Start and Early Head Start offer health, education and social services to children from low-income families.

The book fair also includes a gift-wrapping booth to raise money for the toy fund.

In addition, Barnes & Noble is sponsoring a book drive through Jan. 1 at its Little Rock and North Little Rock stores. The goal is to donate two books to each of the more than 1,000 Head Start-Early Head Start students in Pulaski County.

Barnes & Noble’s contribution to Head Start will be based on total sales. Head Start’s goal is at least $10,000 in sales, of which 20 percent would go to the toy fund.