The Heart of a Reading Captain

I became a Reading Captain because I understand the importance of reading and am very passionate about literacy as well as the healthy development of children. I come from a background of learning, starting at home, continuing through school, and being reinforced through daily interactions with my parents. I remember my parents preparing me for kindergarten; with loving instruction and a lot of fun, they ensured that I could read and write through a variety of everyday activities.

My mom would let me pretend to be a grown up and read her mail. My dad made use of Coca-cola ads, during bus rides, to play phonics games with me. I remember all of these learning moments as play, not work, and that has helped me develop a love for reading and writing that I still hold to this day. I want children to love reading as much as I do, but more importantly I want to empower parents to be an active part of their child’s learning.

Being a Reading Captain is right up my alley. It allows me to share my love of reading, passion for helping, and desire to empower parents to be their child’s first teacher. So let’s equip them with more tools and resources to teach more and have more fun while doing it!

When I learn new things, I talk about them all the time, to everyone, naturally. Being a Reading Captain gives me access to information and resources that aren’t readily available elsewhere. The campaign messaging is so simple to remember that it just rolls off my tongue when speaking. I share the importance of kids reading on grade-level by fourth grade as one of the foundations for a successful school career.

I am a captain in both South Philly and West Philly. I live in West and work in South. Since one of my earliest reading memories is associated with a bus, I use my commuting time to share information, hand out bookmarks to readers. Whenever I see a parent with a young child, I offer them a book and get them signed up for Ready4K. Yes, I do just carry around books to give away to parents of young children.

At home, everyone, from neighbors to passersby, knocks on my door or shoots me an email if they need a book. I maintain a bookshelf of children’s books, including comics, for any kid in my life that comes over. At work, I maintain a “Lobby Library” for kids to not only read a book while in our waiting room, but they are also encouraged to take a book home; thereby making our library their library.

I generally have a lot of big ideas and as a Reading Captain I get to see some of these ideas become a reality. In the near future, I am working on getting Reading Recycled, a Read by 4th partner organization, to place recycled newspaper-bin-turned-sidewalk-libraries in every park in West and South Philly.

An idea that has become a reality is our West Philly Captains’ Women’s History month celebration on March 23 at the 40th St library branch. We are also hosting our first ever Literacy Carnival, April 13 at South Philly High. Our South Philly Captains are planning a Read Across Philly: Philly Love’s Reading Weekend event that will be from May 18 to 19.

The work is great but Reading Captains are greater. Welcome, if you are new to the group, and if you are not yet a Reading Captain…I hope you will join us!

Carolotta is from West Philadelphia, born and raised, and literally spent most of her days on the playground. An avid reader, community advocate, and Reading Captain. She enjoys helping children and families have better relationships and interactions, though a variety of creative events.

Contact her at for more info about The Literacy Carnival, April 13, or Reading Across Philly Weekend, May 18-19.