by Mrs. P

The books we read (or someone reads to us) as children are the books we never forget. They shape us in ways we may not even recognize: how we see the world, what we believe to be true, what we think is just or unjust. We tuck their lessons away for safekeeping and bring them out—for the rest of our lives—whenever we need help understanding a frustrating situation or making a difficult decision.

You’re driving to work in the morning, going the speed limit, when someone roars by, nearly knocking your car over. You get mad, but finally calm yourself by thinking, “It’s okay. Slow and steady wins the race.” You’re probably not also thinking, I believe this because my mother read Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” to me when I was 4 years old. But I bet that’s where it came from.

The books we read as children become a part of us. Have you ever noticed how many people use characters from children’s books as names for their pets, email addresses, sometime even their own children. These characters become almost like family to us. We first met them when our imaginations made little distinction between fantasy and reality, and we’ve lived with them longer than many of our “real” friends.

When I run into someone with a dog named Scout, for example, I know we have a mutual friend in a little girl from To Kill A Mockingbird. We can talk about her and share our impressions of her just as we could a real, live person we both knew. In that sense, children’s books also give us a comforting sense of community wherever we go.

It is for all these reasons that I started I could think of nothing more valuable than creating a place where kids, who might not otherwise have the chance, could hear for free and with no advertising, a storyteller read them classic children’s stories.

I’ve just released my first book, Mrs. P’s Four Favorite Fairy Tales and Funny Stories with which kids can read along with me on my website. It’s the first of its kind: a truly interactive book that will help kids improve their reading skills in a fun and easy way.

I’m proud of my website and new book, as well as my craft projects and games for kids that champion a love of books and reading. I always put a lot of thought and care into each of them before sending them into the world, because I know you should always look before you leap.

Hmm. I wonder where I learned that?

TV star Kathy Kinney (“The Drew Carey Show”), portrays Mrs. P and is also one of the creators of the website. The website endeavors to expose young people to great books and stories through a celebrity storyteller, Mrs. P. has no advertising and is completely free, making it a fun and educational online destination for teachers, parents and children. The site also contains interactive games, coloring sheets to download, and activity guides to accompany chapter books like Alice in Wonderland. Every story also offers read along options so children can see the words, which is helpful to early readers, and ESL students. Mrs. P is the recipient of The National Parenting Center 2009 Seal of Approval and the American Library Association distinction of “Great Website for Kids.”