CEO Update: Illuminating Pathways with the Power of Reading

By: Erin Porteous, Chief Executive Officer  
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver 

Opening a book can be like opening a portal to another world. With each page turned, readers discover joy, knowledge, and connection. This week, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver joins in celebrating one of my favorite annual traditions, Read Across America Day. My daily interactions with my daughters, my work at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, and my perspective as an avid reader have helped me understand the pivotal role reading plays in shaping young minds. When children can access the tools they need to be confident, independent readers, we offer a gateway to boundless opportunities. In celebration of Read Across America Day, I’d like to share why literacy matters to me, a few of my favorite reads, and what our reading programs look like at our Clubs 

The Transformative Power of Reading 

Reading is the key to unlocking ideas, nurturing creativity, and cultivating essential life skills. At Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, we are focused on opening doors and providing the resources our Club members need to reach their greatest potential. We engage Club members in reading programs to enable academic success and critical life skills beyond the classroom.  

“The benefits of reading extend beyond language and literacy skills. Reading books can encourage children to be intellectually curious, inspire problem solving, promote empathy, increase self-esteem, and help them understand the world and connect with people around them.” (1)  

In my experience, a love of reading fosters effective communication, an essential skill for building relationships and navigating the adult world. Books increase vocabulary, enabling self-expression and confidence. They can also allow children to explore diverse perspectives and experiences, developing empathy and emotional intelligence.  

Erin’s Book Recommendation Corner 

With all the benefits of being a lifelong reader in mind, I can’t help but share a few of my favorite books. No matter how old we get, we can always return to being a kid again. Over the holiday, I read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" for the first time (yes, albeit late) and was lost in a land of wonder and imagination. I found myself rooting for the Gryffindor house with each turning page. I hope you enjoy my recommendations and embark on a literary journey with some books that have left an indelible mark on me over the years.

Favorite Children's Books

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

J.K. Rowling

Little Hoot

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The Tale of Three Trees

 Angela Elwell Hunt

No Fair!

Jacob Grant

The Giving Tree

Shel Silverstein

Lola Dutch

Kenneth Wright


Doreen Cronin 

Favorite Novels

The Measure

Nikki Erlick

Things I Wish I Told My Mother

Susan Patterson and Susan DiLallo

ANYTHING by Taylor Jenkins Reid!

Favorite Books About Working with Kids


Angela Duckworth

What Happened To You

Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why

Paul Tough

Favorite Business Books

Atomic Habits

James Clear


The Fred Factor

Mark Sanborn

Favorite Inspirational Books

The Moment of Lift

Melinda Gates


The Book of Hope

Jane Goodall, Douglas Abrams, Gail Hudson

Favorite Autobiography

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Favorite Historical Book

The Bible



Literacy Initiatives at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s literacy programs work to ensure every kid and teen can thrive. Because of challenges that remain from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for students in low-income neighborhoods, (2) our commitment to high-quality reading programs has strengthened. We use interactive learning tools like MyOn and Accelerated Reader, allowing Club members to track progress and gain confidence. In partnership with the lessons learned during the school day, our programs support kids’ transition from learning to read to reading to learn.   

We continue incorporating new tools into our strategies, such as Lalilo, an evidence-based digital tool that supports early literacy. Research emphasizes the importance of early literacy, as proficiency by third grade can impact high school graduation rates. (3) Additionally, we are expanding our reading and writing program by collaborating with partners like Hopkins Education Services. Their work with small groups provides imaginative reading and writing support focused on building strong relationships, boosting confidence, and improving learning outcomes.  

No matter the tactic or tool, our literacy programs are designed to be fun and engaging at every grade level. They equip Club members with a love of learning and provide foundational skills to succeed in school and life.   

This Read Across America Day, let’s celebrate the joy of reading and acknowledge its transformative impact on the lives of kids and teens nationwide. By nurturing a love for reading, learning, writing, and self-expression, we empower the next generation to become confident, compassionate, and informed individuals who will shape a brighter future for us all. 

Happy reading! 

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  1. “Promoting Early Literacy and Fostering a Love for Reading,” March 12, 2020 
  1. "Academic Achievement Gap Analysis – Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver” September 8, 2022 
  1. “How Third Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation.” January 1, 2012 

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