Emily Kirkpatrick

Emily Kirkpatrick, the National Center for Family Literacy's senior director, was at Monroe Elementary in West Valley City this month to celebrate the school's Toyota Family Literacy Program grant. The program allows Spanish-speaking parents to learn alongside their children at school.

Reading, living: Kirkpatrick read to her niece, 11, and nephew, 16, as youngsters, and seized literacy opportunities during activities, whether reading history imprinted on Washington, D.C., monuments, a restaurant menu or a recipe at home. "Children spend far more time in homes or communities than in schools," she says. "What really matters is the ... everyday literacy that eventually adds up."

Young faves: Kirkpatrick loves Dr. Seuss, particularly "Green Eggs and Ham," but the first book she remembers reading herself was a children's biography of John F. Kennedy. "It got me interested in history," she says.

Today's picks: "I'm always reading books," Kirkpatrick says, typically nonfiction, including Arthur M. Schlesinger's "Journals, 1952-2000" and other works. Among her favorites are the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" series by Richard Carlson, a friend of hers who died about a year ago.

On reading: Reading increases a person's vocabulary and ability to communicate. "It opens the world. It expands the mind and opportunities," she says. "Reading can take you places and expand your horizons."