More than 700 First-Graders Participate in Woodland Kids Read


SACRAMENTO (May 21, 2021) – First-grade classrooms across Woodland tuned into Zoom on Tuesday to watch local children’s author Sandy Holman read her book, “We All Have Heritage,” as part of United Way California Capital Region’s annual Woodland Kids Read event. Holman, affectionally known to local children as the Purple Lady, has participated in the event since its founding five years ago. This year, she shared her presentation about love, diversity, education and living your dreams with 726 first-graders. Each child received a hardcover version of Holman’s book to bring home.

“This has always been such a special community event, and I’m so grateful to Sandy and our team at United Way for finding a creative way to adapt it to hybrid school schedules,” said Amber Lovett, interim president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “When we get kids excited about reading, they are far more likely to read at grade level, making them more successful in school and more likely to graduate from high school ready for college and career.”

United Way created Woodland Kids Read in partnership with local Rotary Clubs. Prior to the pandemic, community leaders would join students in their classrooms, or invite them to Woodland Community College, to read stories. When schools shut down last spring, United Way held the event virtually over Zoom so children could participate from their homes.

“This event was fantastic for our students and filled with energy, enthusiasm, and the power of positivity and love throughout,” said Roseanna O’Quelly, first-grade teacher at Tafoya Elementary School. “My students’ takeaway was the celebration and importance of their own heritage and loving everyone regardless of what they look like or where they come from. As one of my students said, just be kind.”

Woodland Kids Read 2021 was sponsored by the Corning Foundation.

“This was our second year sponsoring Woodland Kids Read because it’s a great way to support our schools, and Corning values local community involvement,” said Scott Balmain, Corning Inc.’s Woodland branch manager.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its 20-year promise to end poverty in the region by significantly increasing the number of students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and career. United Way is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: