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Seventy PCPA students, resident artists and staff fanned out across Orcutt, Los Alamos and Santa Maria and popped into local classrooms for a memorable book reading event Thursday morning.

Developed as a literacy outreach program in 2017 by resident artist Kitty Balay, PCPA Reads gives local students a vibrant, up-close and personal experience with storybooks. Using their voice and speech training, the readers brought a fun and exciting experience to hundreds. 

“My hope is that these dynamic, lively readings will open up the joy and excitement of stories and books to children," Balay said, explaining that reading is an important way to develop imagination, curiosity and empathy. "If PCPA Reads can spark an interest in reading in a child, then we will have made a valuable difference in our community.”

To help meet their goal of reading to 10,000 students in 2019, she said the program has expanded this year to offer Spanish language readings to some local schools.

"We're lucky to have [PCPA] students whose first language is Spanish," Balay added, "[and] they are very pleased to be able to use the theatrical skills they've learned in English and share them in Spanish with local children. These books are in high demand with our schools."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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