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She’s a do-gooder! Socially conscious celebrity Sherri Shepherd, co-host of ABC’s The View, has lent her voice to youth-focused nonprofit, Young Faces Smiling, which educates at-risk urban youth by exposing them to real-life success stories.

“Reading opens up such a world to you,” said Shepherd in an on-camera interview during a surprise student trip to ABC Studios, organized by Young Faces Smiling co-founder, Ms. Ardella “Face” McClarty.

“I grew up in the inner city of Chicago and when we saw stuff going on around us, it was a lot of gang violence, [Gangster] Disciples and this and that, I would go in my room and read, and that took me away, and I would fantasize about what it would be like if I was like that,” meaning, the exciting characters inside the books.

Shepherd, who said she has been reading since age 4, was introduced to “word puzzles” by her late mother.

Then, one of her favorite teachers really challenged the actress, comedian, and media personality by giving her a variety of books: “everything from Grapes of Wrath, to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to The Hobbit series, to black history.”

Literacy—an area where many urban youths fall beneath the national average—is  the key to taking advantage of opportunities to improve their quality of life.

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