Paying it forward, one book at a time

Thousands of children participated in this year’s Summer Reading Splash and free book fair.

In June, Andrews McMeel Universal was the presenting sponsor of Turn the Page KC’s Summer Reading Splash. Turn the Page KC was founded in 2011 by Mayor Sly James to address and improve third-grade reading proficiency. This year’s annual citywide event had the highest attendance yet, as nearly 2,000 students in grades kindergarten through third were bussed in from reading programs all over the city to enjoy a celebration of reading.

Due to size, the event was split into a morning and afternoon. Mayor Sly James read to the children from The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat, and local rapper Roy Scott with Healthy Hip Hop got the kids moving and dancing. The children also participated in activities sponsored by KC-area organizations to get them excited about reading and learning, and attended a free book fair, selecting three books each to take home with them. Andrews McMeel donated over 1,200 books to this event.

AMU associate Emily Folks helped a child select books to take home and read.

According to Turn the Page KC, students who fail to read during the summer can fall one or more months behind in school, and more than 60 percent of children who grow up in poverty do not own age-appropriate books in the home. Summer Reading Splash helps kids continue to read over the summer by providing access to books.

In addition to sponsorship and donations, many AMU associates volunteered their time at the event. “Not every kid has a parent who can take them to the library or buy them books or read to them,” said AMU International Sales Director Suzanne Garrett. “It was very special to watch the kids look through books, get excited about books, talk to each other about books and help each other find books. I always wanted to get involved in a literacy charity and I’m so happy to be able to do that through Andrews McMeel. I love the fact that we are so eager to help our community in so many ways.”

AMU President and CEO Andy Sareyan presented at Turn the Page KC’s luncheon.

Publishing Sales Director Emily Folks agreed, adding, “My love of books and reading was instilled at an early age, and I think it’s something that every kid should grow up with. But the reality is that in some communities in KC, that’s not always the case.”

“With the content AMU has, it’s a no-brainer that we can help make an impact in getting kids excited to read,” Production Coordinator Jane Turner said. “By reading something fun like a comic book, my hope is that it will help improve their reading skills, give them confidence and encourage them to keep reading other material as well.”

AMU President and CEO Andy Sareyan spoke at the event’s private luncheon, which took place between the children’s morning and afternoon sessions. Sareyan talked about AMU’s history, legacy and decision to support children’s literacy. All proceeds raised at the luncheon went toward Turn the Page KC’s mission.

To learn more about Turn the Page KC, visit

Watch the video below made by Local Investment Commission (LINC) to see highlights of this year’s event.


Founded in 1970, Andrews McMeel Universal is an independent, multi-faceted, global entertainment company. Distinguished by a creator-first approach and the uncanny ability to tap into the zeitgeist of popular culture, Andrews McMeel specializes in comics, illustrated humor and inspirational content distributed across multiple platforms, with a remarkable roster of talent across syndication, book, calendar and greeting card publishing, digital consumer experiences, and entertainment licensing, including dozens of New York Times bestselling authors and Pulitzer Prize-, Reuben Award- and Emmy-Award-winning creators.