Jamie Lee Curtis charms young and old alike at Village Presbyterian reading

Rainy Day Books owner Vivien Jennings (standing) prepped books for signing by actor Jamie Lee Curtis at Village Presbyterian Friday.

Actor Jamie Lee Curtis charmed her Prairie Village audience — young and old alike — with a spirited reading of her latest children’s book, her 11th in the last 20 years, and a self-effacing account of her own life.

Curtis said it was the first time she had been to Kansas City, even though her business manager lives here.

“My jaw dropped at how beautiful it is. You are very lucky to live here,” she said.

Head Start of Shawnee Mission and Rainy Day Books partnered to bring Curtis to Village Presbyterian Church for a reading of her latest children’s book, packing Friendship Hall with adults and children. Donations of more than $500 allowed more than 30 Head Start families to attend the event.

Curtis said she had three jobs; an actor (she asked if any children had seen Beverly Hills Chihuahua), a spokesperson (“I sell yogurt that helps you poop.”), and a writer, inspired by a conversation with her own daughter as a 4 year old. It was her daughter’s antics that led to “When I was Little: a four-year-old’s memoir of her youth.”

She realized she was really writing about self-hood and self-identity, she said, and since then the books just pop into her head. Her reading Friday was from the latest book: “My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, sighs, and high fives.”

Head Start of Shawnee Mission serves 231 low income pregnant women, infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families and 300 Johnson County families are on the waiting list for services. Nearly 38,000 Johnson County residents live at the federal poverty level, which qualifies them for Head Start services.

The Friday event also was encouraging the community to purchase books for Head Start children. The Little House also was a participating sponsor.