Ready Readers, cookies for charity, Touhill events

By Lois Caplan

IN CASE YOU ARE UNAWARE OF READY READERS, let me introduce you to one of our community’s greatest assets. It’s a nonprofit organization that inspires preschool-age children from low-income community’s to become readers by reading aloud to them. It also increases their exposure to high-quality books and provides stimulating literacy-related activities. 

It’s no small project. This year alone, Ready Readers has more than 570 St. Louis volunteers who read weekly to 8,700 children who attend 172 early childhood centers in the St. Louis area. Volunteers will give more than 60,000 new, high quality books to the children. 

Starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, at Clayton High School, 1 Mark Twain Circle, Ready Readers will present Winter Story Fest, its annual benefit performance by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ Imaginary Theatre Company. The centerpiece of the Fest is the Rep’s one-hour, award-winning production of  “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” baed on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story. 

Prior to the 3:30 p.m. performance, children can enjoy activities by Circus Kaput, Magic House, St. Louis Puppet Guild, Kidz Art and St. Louis Science Center. There also will be a silent auction, a book pull, and a snack and beverage for the kids. 

Admission is $15 in advance for children and adults, $18 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at the door, online at or by calling 314-564-8070. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Ready Readers and will be used to purchase books and train volunteers.

PRIZE-WINNING ST. LOUIS BAKER Wendy Sondov was one of five finalists in the 2014 King Arthur Flour Holiday Cookie Decorating Contest, which brings with it a $500 donation to charity. Sondov has named the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry as her  charity.

Her creative, smiling snowmen cookie stacks, each wearing a colorful scarf as if going skating, were selected out of 225 entries nationwide. 

Louis Albert, executive director of Jewish Family & Children’s Service, which oversees the food pantry, said: “Each month nearly 8,000 people who suffer from food insecurity are able to find a little reprieve from going to bed hungry. We thank King Arthur Flour for putting on this contest and are honored that Wendy selected us in recognition of our work in the community.”

I am not a baker, so I do not know one flour from another, but I can tell you that King Arthur Flour was founded in 1790 and is America’s oldest flour company. It has been 100 percent employee-owned since 2004.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR, particularly at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  On Friday, Feb. 13, and Saturday, Feb. 14, St. Louis Ballet will perform “Love is in the Air,” featuring a mix of classic and contemporary work by a range of distinguished choreographers. 

Appropriately costumed in evening dresses and tuxedos, the dancers will capture the spirit of the Valentine’s Day weekend as they perform to the music of George Gershwin and Claude Bolling. The program also includes work by award-winning guest choreographer Francis Patrelle, who is well known for dozens of ballets choreographed for opera. Tickets at $28 to $45 are available at the Touhill Box Office at or 314-516-4949.

ALSO AT THE TOUHILL, the St. Louis Jazz Orchestra plays “A Tribute to Stan Kenton” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4. Considered one of the pioneers of progressive jazz, Kenton gained much notoriety from the 1940s through the ’70s with songs such as “Painted Rhythm” and “The Peanut Vendor.” 

A pianist, composer and arranger, he led an innovative, influential and often controversial American jazz orchestra whose music I danced to at Lindenwood College (yes, it was during the Middle Ages). 

Tickets at $15 to $25 per person are available at or 314-516-4949.