For a few lucky fifth graders in Culver City, California one recent story-time came from an unlikely source - the star of a major motion picture, whose character can't read at all.
For Clareece Precious Jones, the main character of "Precious," being illiterate is only part of her story. Precious is poor, pregnant for the second time by her father, and physically and emotionally abused by her mother.
It seems only fitting that a psychology major would understand the role.
To submit an idea for The American Spirit send us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sapphire: Casting Gabourey Sidibe
"Precious" Red Carpet
Review: Oscar-Worthy Performances
The Unlikely Story of "Precious"
Learning from "Precious"
A Surreal Premiere
Mo'nique Strikes It Big
"Someone pointed out to me yesterday that I probably will touch more people with this film than I would ever as a therapist," said Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, who plays Precious. "So I feel better now."
CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric reports twenty-six year-old Gabourey Sidibe is hardly right out of central casting. But then again, not many plus-sized, African-American girls are.
"It's empowering. It's like as much confidence as I have, there's still that little fat girl that lives inside of me," said Sidibe. "Because everyone told me that I wouldn't make anything of myself until I lost 100 pounds."
She was still attending college -- in fact, she was cutting class -- when she delivered the audition that brought a nationwide, five-month casting call to a screeching halt.
"I got the call for the callback, which was the next day," Sidibe said. And it was really Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - movie star. Which is my new tag line, personally."
Director Lee Daniels says it was that not-so-quiet confidence that made him realize he'd been looking for Precious in all the wrong places.
Daniels , who interviewed 400 girls, said, "I had gone to McDonald's. I looked everywhere for that girl. And I realized once I spoke to Gabby that if I had hired any of those girls - I would have been exploiting those girls because they were precious."
Gabby says she hopes her new-found fame will help teach one of the most valuable lessons of all: you can't judge a book by its cover.
"I just hope that people can get past what I look like, and what other -- you know, what other people look like. And see the heart and the soul of the person."
Copyright 2009 CBS. All rights reserved.