Meet Our Reading Heroes

Joshua Ortiz


Meet our new Reading Hero, Joshua Ortiz! Joshua is a recent graduate from Temple University Klein College of Media and Communications. He was nominated by Patty Fox for his work as a reading mentor in her second grade classroom at Alain Locke School, a West Philadelphia K-8 public school. As a reading mentor for the Social Emotional Awareness Community Art Program (SEAC), Joshua volunteered twice a week leading small group reading sessions, facilitating classroom book discussions, and helping new mentors get settled into the SEAC program. Way to go Joshua! 

Garden Court Community Association (GCCA)

 Caption (l. to r.): Back Row: Libby Rosof, Barbara Zeigler, Martha Ledger, Sue Irish, Megin Myers, Linda Visconti, Anurag Sagar Front Row: Brenda Bonhomme, Lynn Major, Marshall Ledger

GCCA has long supported the Henry C. Lea School, a K-8 public school located in West Philadelphia. Seven years ago, when members learned that some first-graders were falling behind in reading, they recruited volunteers to commit to coming into the classroom once a week to read with students. Since then, the program has expanded to include grades second through fourth.

Many of the GCCA members see supporting Lea’s students as a way of giving back to their community. Others have a background in literature and want to share their passion for reading. One volunteer attended Lea as a child and feels it is her duty to come back and support it as an adult. However varied their motivations, they are doing amazing work.

Wanda Steward

Wanda made up stories to her children at bedtime since she lacked the ability to read. She took the initiative to reach out to the Office of Adult Education (OAE), then began classes with Adults Can Learn to Read. Adults Can Learn to Read is an OAE partner provider that offers adult basic education classes in the Kingsessing Library. There she learned the skills she used to write her book, The Little Chicken Named Pong Pong. Project Literacy helped it to get published. British actor, Idris Elba found out about Wanda’s book through Project Literacy and read her story to kids all over the world on YouTube to show his appreciation. Wanda Stewart is a true inspiration, she encourages other adults that it is never too late to learn to read and write.

To learn more about Project Literacy visit their website.

To hear Idris Elba read The Chicken Little name Pong Pong visit the YouTube video.

Michelle Noland



Michelle Noland grew up going to the Parkway Central Library branch. It was her backyard and she loved reading everyday. She would sit in the hallway and read. Today, she is a reading hero on her block. She helps kids read for school and brings them lunch! She makes sure to knock on every door to make sure the kids come out and read.

Tanisha Dennis




Tanisha has spent the last two years hosting the Youth Literacy Books and Breakfast in North Philly. Meeting every last Saturday of each month the event consists of a hot breakfast, learning about the theme of the day, and participating in four different workshops. Tanisha’s long-term goal is to host the Books and Breakfast event every Saturday in 10 different neighbors. Way to go, Tanisha!


Chris Coleman




Chris grew up reading books and now writes his own.Two of his books are called the Beta Crew: Saving Kodon and the Adventures with Jade (the microphone of friendship). His books feature kids from diverse backgrounds as superheroes because he wants all kids to be excited by what they’re reading and learning. He has already made his books into mobile apps, music sound tracks and videos!