Miss West Karlee York turns the page for early childhood literacy


By Kasie McCreary - [email protected]



Miss West Karlee York entertains young readers and fellow River Days candidates with a favorite book from her childhood: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff

Miss West Karlee York entertains young readers and fellow River Days candidates with a favorite book from her childhood: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff


Photos by Kasie McCreary | Daily Times

Miss West hopes that her platform inspires children and their families to take a break from screens this summer in favor of reading more together. She says her own love of reading has inspired her throughout her lifetime.


Photos by Kasie McCreary | Daily Times

Hattie Leightenheimer, 6, and York create some artwork after snack and storytime. York is dedicated to bringing her passion for literacy to local children of all ages.


Photos by Kasie McCreary | Daily Times

WEST PORTSMOUTH—River Days candidate Karlee York welcomed local children to a community gathering designed to promote childhood literacy in a digital age.

York along with the other candidates for the Miss River Days Pageant select a community service platform throughout the course of their campaigns to enrich their communities by promoting a cause about which they are passionate. York has entitled her platform “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader: Turning the Page Today For A Better Tomorrow.”

York believes that her platform’s simple message is one with the power to change the lives of all whom it reaches.

“It’s all about advocating for early literacy, and inspiring children to find a love for reading,” York explained.

York is thankful that her reading journey began at a young age. Without it, she would not have possessed all the tools necessary to navigate some difficult times in her childhood.

“My mom and dad got a divorce [when] I was at a fairly young age. I didn’t really have a lot of close friends. But reading was always there to turn to when I was sad or upset,” York said. “It’s just really what kept me grounded, and that’s why I want to inspire other kids to learn how to read. Maybe that can be their rock or their go-to when they need something and they don’t really have anyone else to turn to.”

York’s event welcomed several young readers and their families to learn more about the cause. Together, they enjoyed learning, reading, and of course, snack time.

York chose to read a childhood favorite to all the children in attendance and was pleased to see that she shared a bond with them through her book choice. She provided children with a snack of milk and cookies to further add to the book’s theme.

“The book I will be reading to them is called If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which is a very big favorite among little kids. I didn’t realize it was still so popular, because it was one of my favorites. But I talked to some [children] at the elementary about it and they were jumping up and down because it’s one of their favorites,” York said.

While the children happily enjoyed their snacks and coloring pages provided by York, speakers from The Portsmouth Public Library (PPL) presented information about their upcoming summer reading program. Their goal with this outreach is to fill the educational and literacy gaps that come with schools being dismissed for summer break.

Both Linda Berry (Deputy Director of PPL) and Lisa Lavender (Youth Services, PPL) recognized York from her time as a small child enrolled in past summer reading programs.

York’s sister, Katelyn York, then took time from her busy schedule as a graduate student with Marshall University in order to educate the families about the critical need to share literacy skills with students at every stage of cognitive development. Katelyn, who studies communication disorders and speech therapy, is proud of her sister’s mission.

“We are all proud of Karlee for choosing this platform. As long as I can remember, that child had a book in her hand. My mother sometimes would argue with her to leave her book in the car: ‘Karlee, we are going into the mall. There is no reason for you to have that.’ This is a great platform for her to choose, and it’s very dear to her heart,” explained Katelyn.

York knows that without a love of reading, she may not have made it through difficult times so easily. That’s why in addition to benefiting local children through literacy resources, her platform also gives back to sick children across the state through book donations.

“I asked the kids to bring a book that they had either grown out of, or with words that are too large or small for their reading skills, and they will be going to Children’s Hospital—that’s where all of our book donations will be going.”

York shared that the choice to help Children’s Hospital felt natural given her experience in their care at a young age.

“When I was younger I had Chiari [Malformation] Type 1; I fell and hit my head. I love Children’s Hospital, they took such good care of me. That’s why I wanted the books to go there, because that was another time where reading really got me through. I really enjoyed it. It kept me grounded as such a little kid, and I hope that it does help other kids, too,” York said.

As York turned the page on her community service event, she can’t help but reflect on what her hard work means for the community she loves.

“I’m so happy that I get to do this for my community, and that I get to participate in something like this and hopefully make a difference in other kids’ lives,” York said.

Miss West Karlee York entertains young readers and fellow River Days candidates with a favorite book from her childhood: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_MissWest1.jpgMiss West Karlee York entertains young readers and fellow River Days candidates with a favorite book from her childhood: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff Photos by Kasie McCreary | Daily Times

Miss West hopes that her platform inspires children and their families to take a break from screens this summer in favor of reading more together. She says her own love of reading has inspired her throughout her lifetime.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_MissWest3.jpgMiss West hopes that her platform inspires children and their families to take a break from screens this summer in favor of reading more together. She says her own love of reading has inspired her throughout her lifetime. Photos by Kasie McCreary | Daily Times

Hattie Leightenheimer, 6, and York create some artwork after snack and storytime. York is dedicated to bringing her passion for literacy to local children of all ages.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_Miss-West4.jpgHattie Leightenheimer, 6, and York create some artwork after snack and storytime. York is dedicated to bringing her passion for literacy to local children of all ages. Photos by Kasie McCreary | Daily Times

By Kasie McCreary

[email protected]

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.