• November Medical Minute

    This is normally the time of year when we think of cold nights and planning for family gatherings around holiday tables. Across our two states, numbers of COVID-19 cases are rising. This also comes at a time when flu season will be arriving in our region. 

    Planning holiday get togethers during COVID-19 - School of Public Health

    The question on everyone’s minds- how do we safely manage the holidays and this unique winter season ahead? This winter will not, or should not, be the same for most of us if we are following recommendations to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-SARS2. It means rethinking large gatherings and finding other ways to celebrate. The CDC provides lots of helpful information here to guide us in safely negotiating holidays.

    Family Gatherings, Holidays and More: Additional Tips on Celebrating Missed  Milestones during Covid- | The University of Vermont Health Network

    So as winter approaches, continue those FaceTime/Zoom/Google Group gatherings, find a great book to read and look at all of the local activities you can do with your family. Check out the many local parks and hiking trails for an outing. This site lists activities for kids and adults – just plug in your zip code!

    Support your favorite restaurants with carry-out orders, your favorite small businesses with curbside pick-up, or short, mask-wearing in-store shopping. Shop your local bookstores to find that special book for the children in your lives. Click here to support independent bookstores.

    Why the flu shot is so important in 2020 | Feeling Fit | yoursun.com

    To keep extra safe get your flu vaccine if you haven’t yet, wear a face covering whenever you are with other people outside of your social bubble, practice social distancing, and wash your hands. Don’t touch your face!

    To our loyal donors, we thank you for your continued support during these difficult corona-era times. Know that you are helping us make a difference in the lives of children every day!

    -Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

  • Welcome New Board Member Katie Jardieu!

    When Katie Jardieu was growing up, books were a beloved anchor of stability and consistency, like an old familiar friend. “I moved around a lot as a kid and books allowed moments of quiet in the various places where we didn’t know anyone yet,” says Katie.

    Today, she’s in an exciting chapter of her life. Katie and her husband, Chris, have an adopted son named Jimmy who is turning four-years-old this month. Jimmy is from China and hopes to meet his new adopted little brother soon. Right now, Katie and Chris are waiting for China’s border to open to finalize their second son’s adoption.

    “Reading is a way for my husband and I to connect with our children early on, as we help them navigate a new language and new country. It has also helped us learn more about their culture and integrate aspects of it into our family,” says Katie, “Reading and books are so important to me as they have helped us discover new aspects of our son’s personality and create memories together as a family during our pre-COVID weekly library trips.”

    By joining the Reach Out and Read Kansas City Advisory Board, Katie wants to help other children gain access to books as early as possible so that they too, can have the countless advantages of reading and learning at a young age. “What I am most looking forward to about being on the Advisory Board, is to help expand the mission of ROR-KC and get books into the hands of more kids and families who need them” says Katie, “I was specifically interested in ROR-KC because they don’t make families sign up for anything to get the books. They make the well-child visits less scary and more approachable.”

    Katie is a City Planner for Raymore, Missouri with a background in cartography.

    Welcome, Katie, and thank you for sharing your time and talents with us!

  • October Medical Minute

    It is definitely fall. We have cooler nights, changing leaves and many are working hard to figure out remote learning in this 7th month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    TeachingBooks | Author & Book Resources to Support Reading Education

    I want to write a bit about diversity, and more specifically, diversity in children’s books.  First, a definition from various sources-Diversity encompasses those differences that make us unique – race, color, ethnicity, language, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, gender, socio-economic status, age, physical and mental ability, cultural traditions and more. 

    We're Different, We're the Same (Sesame Street) by Bobbi Kates

    Raising children to be aware of differences is important for their understanding of the richness each person can bring to their lives. Sesame Street Workshop has a wonderful book We’re Different, We’re the Same that speaks to the uniqueness of people as well as how people are also the same in terms of needs, desires, hopes, feelings and more. The more we know about how we are alike and how we are different, the more we understand others and the world around us. 

    Providing children with books and toys that feature a variety of people sends them a critical message about diversity, and acts as a stimulus for important conversations about how we are unique and how we are the same. 

    Our ROR-KC book library is proudly filled with books that illustrate the diversity of people and traditions. We know that it is important for children to see characters that look like them! Please see the graphic below that describes the limited availability of titles that feature characters that are Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other peoples of color. 

    Picture This: Diversity in Children’s Books 2018 Infographic – Sarah Park Dahlen, Ph.D.

    Thank you and as always, wear your masks, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face, as you keep yourself and your dear ones safe in these Corona times. 

    -Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

  • Meet Cate and Kayla: 2020 Books On Tap Co-Chairs Q&A

    Our 9th annual fall fundraiser Books On Tap Virtual Campaign is almost here, and this year looks a little different than in years past.

    Books On Tap 2020 Co-Chairs Cate Stein and Kayla Boal have worked very hard to ensure that guests have the same experience safely at home as they would in years past. We want to recognize their hard work and dedication to this year’s virtual campaign, Party At Home Packages, sponsorships, silent auction items and more! This year’s Books On Tap is going to be awesome!

  • September Medical Minute

    Well, dear readers, a month has flown by , and some kids are in school while others remain at home learning remotely. Those kindergartners who’ve been lucky enough to have been recipients of the Reach Out and Read program will be well prepared to begin their elementary school careers, whatever that beginning may be. 

    Daily Dose - What to Know About Children Going Back to School ...

    A recent article explored the effectiveness of various book giveaway programs, and found that the Reach Out and Read model was the most effective of all of the programs reviewed. 

    Why? Because we involve TWO generations – the parents as well as the child. Parents receive advice and education from a trusted health care provider on how and why to share books with their children, along with the gift of a new, developmentally-appropriate book! The frequent visits that families have with their pediatric health care provider who demonstrates ways to share the new book is thought to contribute to the effectiveness of the Reach Out and Read program. 

    Meet 4-year-old Jayleen. She was delighted to have her own books to take home!

    The inequities that persist in our society – including throughout healthcare – are top of mind as we are bombarded with COVID-19 news. This inequality is also pervasive throughout education; children living in poverty have reduced access to language-rich environments and high-quality preschool.

    The gift of a book and the advice that comes with it may seem like a small thing, yet participation in Reach Out and Read has been shown to truly make a difference for the children that we reach. ROR-KC staff are so grateful to our generous donors whose gifts continue to allow us to provide great books, along with information to the families that we serve. Please know that what you give makes a difference in children’s lives every day. 

    Now, wash your hands, put on your masks, and don’t touch your faces as we navigate the new normal of these times. 

    -Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

  • Meet ROR-KC’s New Book Coordinator

    Stefanie reading to her two sons.

    We are excited to announce that Stefanie Estes has joined ROR-KC as our part-time Book Coordinator! She grew up outside Albuquerque and studied film at the University of New Mexico and holds a Masters’ degree in Library Science from Indiana University. For over a decade, Stefanie served patrons of all ages as a children’s librarian, teacher’s assistant, library manager, and adult book group facilitator in the Kansas City area before joining the ROR-KC team. In her spare time, she enjoys laughing with her husband over internet memes, reading to her three and five-year-old boys and taking walks as a family. She also loves recommending books to anyone she meets everywhere she goes.

    Her favorite children’s books include Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman, Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton, Hug by Jez Alborough and Nibbles:The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett.

    Welcome, Stefanie!

  • August Medical Minute

    It seems like the world is mostly upside down in this new normal of Corona time. Everything we do is weighed against the risks of exposing ourselves or others that we love to COVID-19. 

    Normally, this would be the month of heading to one’s favorite store for new school supplies and that special first-day-of-school outfit. Now, many families in the KC metro aren’t quite sure what school will look like.

    What Will Back to School Look Like During COVID-19? - School ...

    It appears that most of the major school districts are choosing to delay the start of school, and some are planning for remote learning at first. Is this wise? So hard to know. What I do know is that my patients are missing their friends, their parents are overwhelmed with trying to be teachers, workers and parents, and many are facing significant economic hardship. What I also know is that many children live in places where WiFi is NOT a given, and have parents who don’t have the skills to be their children’s teachers (other than making sure they are actually sitting in front of the tablet/computer/phone during the Zoom appointment time)! I have teen patients who have been put in charge of their younger siblings learning while parents are working – and you can guess how that sometimes goes! 


    While we await final decisions on in-person learning, it’s time for children to get their vaccinations and check-ups, and of course, their Reach Out and Read gift of a new book (for those 5 years and under), or a gently used book (for those children older than 5), provided through generous donations of so many folks in the community! 

    I encourage people to consult with their child’s primary care provider to assist with difficult decisions on return to school. Click here for information from The American Academy of Pediatrics regarding return to school and sports.


    If we want our children back in school safely, the community has to do its job of caring for everyone by wearing a mask. The percentage of positive COVID tests needs to be well below 5% to think about safe return to school, and the greater metropolitan area is not there yet! As always, we are so thankful for our ROR-KC donors.

    Wash your hands, wear your mask, and don’t touch your face. This helps protect others and also protects you! 

    -Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

    Resources - Action on Salt

    Information for parents about returning to school: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Return-to-School-During-COVID-19.aspx 

    AAP guidance for returning to sports: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-interim-guidance-return-to-sports/ 

    Safety check list for sports participation: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Youth-Sports-Participation-During-COVID-19-A-Safety-Checklist.aspx 

  • July’s Medical Minute

    Dear Reach Out and Read KC friends,

    Jayleen is excited about her new books!

    Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, has just passed as I write this as we move inexorably onward in this new normal of the COVID-19 era. My grands have dubbed this “corona time”.

    What’s happening in pediatric and family medicine clinics? Traditionally, summer is the time for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten physicals and those are still happening! Four-year-olds are getting their ROR Kindergarten book bags along with their very important four-year-old booster immunizations. Children birth to five are coming in for their regular check-ups and immunizations and of course their gift of a book from their providers, thanks to the generous donations to ROR-KC!  

    We are missing the many volunteers who have modeled reading aloud in our waiting rooms, and suspect it will be quite some time before they will be able to return-perhaps once there is a widely available COVID-19 vaccine. Work flows have changed so that no one is ever in the waiting room! For many offices, this has meant scheduling more evening and Saturday hours in order to avoid folks staying in waiting rooms. Gently-used books are staying back in our work areas, to be handed out by staff to older children, who come into our offices for any reason.  

    Dr. Lisa Riojas, MD and her staff at Children’s Mercy West.

    Offices have opened up their schedules. Many of us are using telehealth for certain type of follow up visits and in a limited way for urgent care concerns.

    All staff are wearing masks and eye protection, and all who come for visits are wearing masks as well (if you are over two-years-old, you get a mask). We want to keep our patients, their families and all of our staff safe.

    Why it is Important to Teach Your Kids to Wear a Face Mask | UKNow
    Stay safe and healthy this summer!

    To all of our ROR-KC supporters – we thank you. We wish a safe “corona time” summer -wear your masks in public, social distancing whenever possible, wash your hands, don’t touch your face as this will be the mantra for the foreseeable future.

    -Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

  • June’s Medical Minute

    Dear Reach Out and Read KC friends,

    This is my third Medical Minute in the Corona era. CORONA is a beautiful word; it means crown in Spanish. Yet, this Corona era has not exactly been beautiful. In the words of Lambrina Kless of National ROR, COVID came and shape-shifted our world. Adapting to this shape-shifted world has been a challenge in so many ways for nearly every human being on the planet – something that’s hard to wrap my head around.  Doctor’s offices mobilized technology for a deep dive into telehealth care delivery, Amazon can’t keep up with the explosion of on-line orders, and many of us struggle to figure out what exactly is safe and what might not be. We wear masks to run our errands, we worry about having enough sanitizer or disinfectant. This site here explains why and how to help children get used to wearing masks.

    Our world will be forever changed, and hopefully in some good ways. The stark revealing of huge discrepancies in the lives of people related to housing, food security, health insurance, treatment in health facilities and more has been beyond eye-opening, and hopefully will lead to systemic changes so that ALL people have what they need to feel safe and secure. It seems each day we are learning more about this virus and how it affects people. Thankfully this illness is mild, and most people recover. Children tend to have mild disease, and in fact often have no symptoms at all, despite being infected. Recent reports of an inflammatory illness in children, which can be very severe, and very scary, are also very rare. Please see this resource for information for parents about this condition.

    Children during this time are missing important day-to-day interaction with teachers, friends, and grandparents. Educators report they are less worried about the academic delays as the social-emotional delays that may occur due to school closures. Children may struggle to understand why their world has changed so dramatically.  Please remember, snuggling up with a kiddo to share a book is proven to reduce those stress hormones in both child and reader! Continuing to the extent possible routines of bedtimes, mealtimes and book sharing are helpful to children especially in times of stress.

    Child advocates worry that more children may be experiencing abuse/neglect as the mandated reporters (teachers, health care providers) are not seeing children. Reports of child abuse / neglect are WAY down, which would not be expected when so many families are under tremendous stress.  If you or someone you know is feeling at the end of their rope, please remind them there is help!  The CHILDHELP National Child Abuse hotline is 1-800-422-4453. Through interpreters available in 170 different languages, the hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.

    Spring is here, folks are hopefully going outside – walking, playing catch, kicking a soccer ball around, and figuring out driveway or porch gatherings with appropriate physical distancing.  Knowing how to decrease risks while most localities are “opening up” is important. Current guidance is that physical distancing remains very important. Wearing a mask where physical distancing is not possible is recommended for all persons over age 2. Dining outside at a restaurant is safer than dining inside. Limiting who you interact with to people who you know have been wearing their masks, and practicing physical distancing is helpful. Drive by birthday parties and graduation events are the 2020 way of celebrating for now.

    The amount of unreliable, unscientific, even dangerous information that goes viral on the internet and certain media outlets is overwhelming! Even selected individuals in the federal government are touting totally unproven, and possibly dangerous remedies or actions. So, most importantly, ONLY PAY ATTENTION TO RELIABLE SOURCES OF INFORMATION: CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, State/Local Health Departments and your primary care health care providers! Your doctor’s office or hospital is safer than ever due to all the extra efforts in cleaning/sanitizing taking place for COVID prevention. We’ll talk again in July, and see how summer is going, and what might be known for resumption of school. Until then, wash your hands, wear your masks, don’t touch your face!

    -Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

  • Janice’s New Chapter: Opening Book on Retirement After 18 Years

    ROR-KC has provided more than 1.2 million books to Kansas City-area children and one person has touched nearly every one of them: our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs. Now, after 18 years of dedicated service, Janice is starting a new chapter by retiring from ROR-KC. “I have loved being a part of something that has touched the lives of so many children,” she says. “I will certainly miss the satisfaction that my job has given me.”

    A special bookmark in Janice’s Book of Life on her time at ROR-KC has been watching little ones arrive for their doctor’s appointment and looking to their parents saying, ‘Do I get a book today?’

    “How awesome is that? They are already connecting their doctor’s visits with the gift of a book,” Janice said.

    Janice’s history with ROR-KC goes beyond her 18 years as an employee. Shortly after she and her family moved to Kansas City, one of her son’s friends’ Mom (Laura Gregory) asked her if she would be interested in serving on the KC Reads Community Council. As a former teacher and lover of books, this seemed like the perfect fit. Janice had been serving on the Council for several years when Dr. Jean Harty (then KC Reads Medical Director) approached her about taking a part-time job to oversee the book aspect of the program.

    “I had the time, interest and was excited to move into a more ‘hand’s on’ relationship with the program. I find myself fondly remembering the many wonderful people with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. ” Janice said.

    More than anything else, Janice says it’s the children who’ve touched her heart. “I am touched as I think about the hundreds of thousands of children who have received the gift of books that I had the privilege to choose. I have been lucky enough to get to deliver waiting room books to some of our clinics throughout the years. The children flock around me and can barely contain themselves as I unload the boxes of gently-used books. I often have lots of “helpers” as I put the books on the shelves! I am sure to give every one of them a book to take home, too.”

    She says it’s not just the children who get excited about book deliveries. “I often hear stories of clinic staff getting really excited on new book delivery day. They lovingly go through the boxes of books, knowing that each one represents an opportunity for parents to get early literacy advice from a health-care provider, and for a child to get a brand-new, appropriate book to call their own.” 

    Janice’s position has included annual trainings for medical providers at clinics, and she says she hears over and over that they wouldn’t want to do a well-child visit without a book. “Not only is the book helpful when doing a developmental assessment of the child, it can also relax the atmosphere in the exam room,” she says. “The child has something new to focus upon, and the parent then has the opportunity to ask questions and hear advice.” 

    As the Book Coordinator, Janice also handled school book drives, and has spoken to many classes over the years.

    “I often ask the students if they can tell me exactly how many books they have at their homes, she says. “Of course, there are always a few who think that they can – until I probe a little further and they realize that maybe they didn’t count ALL of their books – like the ones under their bed or in their car! I then tell them that many children DO know how many books they have, because that number is zero. Can you imagine a home without books? Do you have any idea how many books you own?” 

    As Janice writes her next chapter, she is hopeful and excited for the future. 

    “While COVID-19 has put a hold on some of my plans, I am looking forward to being able to travel more and spend time with my own children and grandchildren in my retirement, and to have the time to get involved with some new volunteer opportunities,” she says. “Until the time comes for traveling and volunteering, I will enjoy finding new places to walk, new books to read, and old sports to watch—can’t get enough of watching the Royals win the World Series, the Chiefs win the Super Bowl or KU win the NCAA National Championship!” 

    Below are some closing words from Janice:

    Janice holding her famous almond cake! Click here for the delicious recipe.

    I will take with me many fond memories and lots of “Seuss-isms” to live by in the next phase of my life. I’d like to close with a quote from Seuss-isms! entitled Expand Your Horizons taken from I Can Read with My Eyes Shut.

    The more that you read,
    The more that you will know,
    The more that you learn,
    The more places you’ll go.

    Thanks to the entire Reach Out and Read Kansas City community for giving me the opportunity to “go so many places” these past 18 years!

    Please continue to take care of this program.

    I know I will.

    -Janice Dobbs

  • June 2020 Donor Spotlight: Something Good To Strive For

    “Reading is so important—it’s a gateway to learning and education.”-Pamela Miller

    As very generous ROR-KC contributors, Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings believe strongly in the work of ROR-KC and the impact it has for the children and families touched by the program.

    “What makes the ROR-KC approach different and effective is that medical caregivers encourage parents to read aloud with their children and to have their children see them reading,” Pamela continued. “Just providing them books to read is an incredible gift! And the children get to enjoy a variety of books read by volunteers in clinic waiting rooms during well-child medical visits. As a volunteer myself, I’ve witnessed the joy and natural curiosity children have. We must, must, must encourage and advocate for this!” Pamela said.

    Studies show the Reach Out and Read model has a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud. Children who participate in the ROR-KC program also demonstrate higher language scores. This impact has been documented in ethnically and economically diverse families throughout the nation.

    Pamela says the bonding between parents and children who read together is the bedrock of a strong community, and ROR-KC’s work has positive effects well beyond distributing books in clinics.

    “Children who are readers grow up as resilient, informed, independent individuals able to navigate the challenges of life—in fact, they embrace them and make a difference in the lives of others. Children who read grow up to see themselves as equal to others in terms of opportunity and as part of the greater world—not at its mercy. As business leaders have often stated, they can teach employees the required work skills, but they cannot teach critical thinking and effective communication,” she continued. “Not to mention the enjoyment and expansive life that reading, education and training provide on a personal level.”

    As avid readers, Pamela and Michael want to ensure the magic, discovery and doors of opportunity opened by reading are available to every family and child in our community.

    “Libraries, schools and bookstores can become sanctuaries for children with a challenging home life,” she said. “I was one of those kids. Reading was my safe place and assured me there was something good to keep striving for.” Pamela said.

    Recently, the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of the ROR-KC program.

    “Children are not at school—so opportunities for reading may be diminished,” she explained. “If children don’t continue to read, their future education will suffer as will their opportunities in life—books are needed! ROR-KC can continue to be that vital link. Books can be provided at wherever children receive wellness and medical services—and ROR-KC can obtain volumes of books at great discounts— through your giving. A modest gift can truly have a transformational impact. Not to mention a family receiving books tells them that you are thinking about them, that you care, that they have value, and that we can get through this—together.” Pamela said.

    ROR-KC makes literacy promotion a standard part of pediatric care so that children starting at birth through age five, grow up with access to books and engaged parents, to enter school ready to learn.  We can’t do that without your help and support. Please consider a gift today by clicking here. Thank you for your ongoing support.

  • New 2020 Tax Benefits

    Dear Friend of ROR-KC:

    I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Eli Colmenero, and I sit on the Board of Reach Out and Reach-Kansas City and our Books on Tap event committee. During the (typical) work hours, I am a tax associate at a local business advisory firm and wanted to reach out regarding recent changes to the charitable giving landscape.

    The role of philanthropy in responding to the current pandemic is critical. Recognizing the public’s increased demand for the services of nonprofits, Congress included special tax rules for charitable giving in The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In sum, the CARES Act grants unprecedented tax benefits to donors who can give in higher amounts while realizing substantial tax savings.

    The CARES Act added an above-the-line deduction for non-itemizing individuals of up to $300 or $600 for joint filers. This new deduction is generally allowable for charitable contributions paid in cash directly to qualifying organizations, like Reach Out and Read Kansas City. The provision is in addition to the standard deduction and may reduce adjusted gross income (“AGI”) that could impact the applicable tax rate and help donors realize significant tax savings.
    Donors who intend to itemize in 2020 have now received the ability to utilize charitable giving to eliminate their entire 2020 Federal income tax liability. The CARES Act increased the maximum charitable deduction from 60% of AGI to 100% of AGI for tax year 2020. Generally speaking, these provisions only apply to cash gifts made during 2020, which makes the remainder of 2020 an ideal time to make that gift-of-a-lifetime.
    Additionally, the maximum charitable deduction from corporate donors increased from 10% to 25% of AGI for cash gifts made during 2020. Thus, the incentives for the corporate community to partner with Reach Out and Read KC and have an immediate impact on the lives of children in the Kansas City area have never been better.

    If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out to your tax advisor and inquire as to how you or your business may best maximize this opportunity to achieve your giving goals. As we begin to move past this crisis, please consider Reach Out and Read Kansas City for your 2020 charitable giving.
    Wishing you the best,
    Eli Colmenero

  • Medical Minute: May 2020

    Our challenge as pediatric health professionals, Reach Out and Read supporters and parents, is how to continue caring for one another in ways we have never imagined!  Who knew that doctors and nurses could see lots of children and families for health visits using the magic of social media?  Who knew that there were so many different ways to have a virtual meeting, coffee/cocktail hour or birthday party?  Is the virtual what we hoped for?  Probably not!  However the alternative would be to see many, many more people become ill with this new virus – COVID-19. 

    The common questions that I’m getting:

    1.) Why is THIS virus so much more worrisome?
    People can have the virus in their body, and not have symptoms, but, they can pass the virus to people who are within 6-9 feet of them! 

    2.) Why do we wear a cloth mask when we can’t stay 6-9 feet away from folks who don’t live in our household?   
    Your mask and your child’s mask protect others from YOU!   The mask on your friend or others in the store, or on the streets protects you from THEM.  This is another way to decrease the number of people who get sick.

    3.) Why can’t we go see the grandparents who are 70 years old?  Because older people are at higher risk of getting severe illness, and you or your child could be infected, but not yet have symptoms!   If you must visit, wear your mask!

    4.) How risky is COVID-19 for my child – why were schools closed?   Children can get this infection.  The good news is that it appears to be VERY rare for a child to become critically ill or die.  The bad news is that children can be infected (have the germ in their body) and have no symptoms, or very, very mild symptoms, and pass the illness to others – that’s why governors/mayors very wisely closed schools.

    Summer is coming.  We don’t know yet when libraries will open back up!  However, this might be the rare time we recommend looking at e-book possibilities for children, which are available on-line to download for free from your local library.  The data remind us that e-books are best when read together with an older sibling or adult who can scaffold (or connect) the information in the book with information in real life. So, continue physical distancing, wear masks when places are crowded, follow advice ONLY of trusted sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, your local health department, and the CDC. There is a lot of information circulating on social media that is not true, in some instances unsafe, and could put you and those you love at risk. Be safe, keep your distance, wash your hands, don’t touch your face.

    A fantastic article “The Anxious Child” by Kate Julian in The Atlantic, reminds us that shielding kids from scary things can actually eventually cause them to be more fearful and more anxious.  It’s OK to talk to our kids about COVID-19, explain in simple terms what it is, and then model what we can do to prevent it. 
    Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC & ROR-KC Medical Director

  • Volunteer Appreciation: Sally Clark

    “When a child comes through the door of the clinic and dashes over to see “the book lady” to get a new book, it is a thrilling feeling. When a patient is offered a book, and they announce they “don’t read” but can’t resist the perfect book when we find it, it feels fantastic.”

    These are the words of Sally Clark, an 18-year volunteer with ROR-KC who started on February 1st, 2002. For Sally, ROR-KC isn’t just a “volunteer job”, it’s her true passion.

    “It’s like Christmas every day with each child getting the gift of a book. Some of the patients I have seen for as many as 18 years, and I have learned to love and admire the patients and their families through the years.” said Sally.

    Her connection with her patients and families can only be described as a unique and rare gem, similarly to each book she joyfully hands out to her patients and families. Sally averages about 50 hours a month volunteering by going in to Children’s Mercy Neonatal Follow-Up Clinics several days of the week for hours at a time.

    “I love my time spent at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Giving out books is such fun. Reading to kids is a joy. Meeting and visiting with the people is a real privilege and my time spent in my volunteer “job” is a wonderful part of my life.” said Sally with a smile.

    To view a Volunteer Highlight video of Sally’s work, click here.

    Thank you for 18 years of volunteer service, Sally! We appreciate your years of enthusiasm and genuine dedication to assisting our mission.

  • Volunteer Appreciation Week

    In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we want to take a moment and thank our OUTSTANDING volunteers. Your time and talents make a world of difference at Reach Out and Read KC. 

    We also want you to know you are genuinely missed. We continue to wish safety and good health over each of you and your loved ones and look forward to the day when we will see your smiling faces again. 😊

    YOU are the heart of Reach Out and Read KC, and we are SO thankful for you! Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week!

  • ROR-KC Virtual Storytime

    We miss you! To support social distancing, join us for ROR-KC Virtual Storytime episodes that you can enjoy from your home featuring ROR-KC staff, volunteers and special guests! View the storytimes on all of our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) every Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

    Use the hashtag #ReadTogetherKC to share your own virtual storytimes and at-home reading pictures with us. We want to see you reading!

  • Medical Minute

    We have seen dramatic changes in how we operate since COVID-19 came to Kansas City. At The University of Kansas Health System (TUKHS) and most other pediatric outpatient centers/offices, well-child visits for children who do not need vaccinations to keep them safe have been cancelled for now. At TUKHS, we have cancelled in-person visits for lots of follow-up concerns for adults as well as children. We have started doing Zoom visits -Telehealth- with families as a strategy to stay in touch and take care of urgent needs that don’t require a detailed physical exam-such as checking in with kids who’ have asthma, chronic abdominal pain, and ADHD medication checks.Our psychologists and licensed clinical social workers are “seeing” kids and families with virtual visits using Zoom or Doximity which are HIPPA compliant.

    Why are visits and elective surgeries being cancelled? Why are stringent visiting policies in place?
    To protect our patients and our health care providers from community spread of COVID-19.
    To save protective equipment (masks, gloves, and gowns) to be available to protect our health professionals.
    Clinics, hospitals, and doctors offices across our communities are doing everything they can to prepare for a possible surge in ill patients. The big unknown is what will this surge look like – will it be overwhelming, as we’re hearing in reports from Italy, New York City and New Orleans, or will it be more manageable as seen in South Korea. The key to a manageable surge is the public’s willingness to practice social (physical) distancing. Each of you reading this can help prevent a health care disaster for this community! If youth continue to congregate for “corona parties” and families congregate in public parks without the distancing, the surge may become unmanageable for the health care system.

    What can you do to protect yourself and your children?
    Exactly what the CDC (Center for Disease Control) advises:
    Keep your social (physical) distance from others. This means NO play dates; this means playing in the park while keeping distance from other people and NOT using the playground equipment; and this means avoiding visits to grandparents over age 65 who are at higher risk of getting sick
    Wash your hands; Soap actually works very, very, very well to kill the pesky virus! Sanitizer is NOT necessary.
    Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue and discard the tissue, then wash your hands again!
    Keep your distance, wash your hands, and stay well!

  • Volunteer Appreciation Month

    April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month! Please join ROR-KC for a virtual celebration via Zoom on Thursday, April 23rd at 2:00 p.m during Volunteer Appreciation Week. Hear from Reach Out and Read CEO Brian Gallagher as he expresses his appreciation of your selfless commitment and effort to our program.

    We are amid an unprecedented public health crisis, yet we also have an extraordinary opportunity to come together virtually during this time to celebrate YOU! Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization.

    Please click here to register for this virtual event!

  • ROR-KC COVID-19 Update and Resources

    This is a trying time for our communities, our nation, and the world. We believe that the Reach Out and Read mission of family engagement and reading daily is as powerful and important as ever during these challenging times.  

    As a healthcare-based program, we have the utmost respect and support for our medical providers who are working tirelessly to care for patients affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Our clinics and providers remain committed to supporting families with young children, continuing to provide books and encourage reading aloud at every checkup. Most ROR-KC partner clinics are continuing to see children 15 months or younger and 5-year-old children so they can continue to receive vaccinations.

    We are pleased to share our curated list of resources for parents and families, which is now available on our website. The increased time that children and families will spend together over the next few weeks is a terrific opportunity to maximize the effect that attention and nurturing from a loving parent or caregiver has on healthy brain development.  

    ROR-KC’s work remains critical during this time. Children and adults alike feel anxious and stressed. One of the best ways to support and engage children is to read books together. Reading together promotes bonding and builds strong emotional connections. When children are cuddled in the lap of a loving caregiver, enjoying a book together, they feel safe and secure, despite the turmoil in the outside world. Reading together also builds routines that can help children manage during this uneasy time. Sharing books regularly can provide a sense of routine that can help children manage during this uneasy time of school closures.

    Check out this article by National Reach Out and Read Medical Director Perri Klass “Getting Through, Making Memories and Being the Grown-Ups”. It’s a great reminder that YOU are what your child needs. 

    Reach Out and Read provides a simple reminder that spending time together with books can offer a safe harbor, even if just for a few moments.  

    Be well! 
  • Race to Read 5K Cancellation

    The health and safety of our community and event participants is our number one priority. Accordingly, The 4th Annual Race to Read 5K on April 25th has been cancelled due to current mandates around events and social gatherings in relation to COVID-19.

    If you would still like to support this event as a virtual runner, please click here and mark yourself as a virtual runner. Your support touches our mission to support children and families through books, literacy advice, and story time.

    We want to extend a special thank you to our Race to Read 5K sponsors  who are continuing to make extraordinary contributions towards children’s literacy: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Lucas Commercial Flooring, The University of Kansas Health System Pediatric Department, Sallie Page-Goertz and Kenneth Goertz,Tanya Rodecker-Wendt and Samuel Wendt and Pat and Gail Sullivan.

  • 2020 Hooked on Books Drive-over 20,000 books collected!

    No photo description available.

    We are excited to announce that our “Hooked on Books” effort collected OVER 20,000 BOOKS THIS YEAR!

    18 elementary and middle schools participated in this area-wide book drive, and the winning school was Clear Creek Elementary! They collected over 16 books per student! WOW! GREAT JOB!

    Clear Creek Elementary will receive $250 to go towards new books for their school library and one lucky class will have a pizza party.

    Over half of the books collected from Hooked on Books will go to ROR-KC waiting rooms, where all children are able to take home a book each time they visit their health-care provider. The rest of the books are being distributed to agencies, schools and churches throughout the KC area who make sure the books go to deserving families.

    Thank you to all of the participating schools and volunteers!

  • Read Across America 2020

    Read Across America Week is a nationwide reading celebration beginning on March 2nd. Sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), this annual reading holiday also marks the birthday of Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

    This year, The Greater Kansas City Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club members Cathy McCaddon and Sue Robinson read books to patients at Children’s Mercy West. In her third year of volunteering, Cathy says this is her favorite time of the year to make a difference.

    “I like to volunteer for Read Across America Week because it’s such a fun event for the kids. There are so many things that you can find, support and celebrate for Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Every child that I have ever read to in a waiting room, I’ll ask ‘Do you know Dr. Seuss?’ and they say ‘YES!’ “said Cathy.

    Over at Vibrant Health Central, the reading celebrations continued!

    Fox 4’s Kathy Quinn read in Spanish to patients while also helping them with their English vocabulary. She credits early literacy as the perfect way to spend time with little ones, while giving them the tools for success.

    “I love and enjoy kids. I home-schooled my kids for six years and we actually taught them Spanish so they would know how to read both languages. I’m a huge advocate for education and wanted to make sure that my kids knew the basics, so that key could open up anything else they wanted to do in life,” said Kathy.

    ROR-KC intern Alex Hernandez also joined in on the fun and read aloud in Spanish to patients.
  • 2020 For the Love of Books breakfast: A Success!

    “At what age do young children start decoding the world around them?”

    This was the thought-provoking question that ROR-KC Medical Director Sallie Page-Goertz recently asked 180 community members and leaders, including Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and former Mayor Sly James. Sallie was the honorary host for our successful 2020 For the Love of Books Breakfast last month at a brand new location, Grand Street Cafe.

    Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas welcoming the 2020 For the Love of Books breakfast attendees.

    On a cold Thursday morning when you’d typically be driving into work thinking about the day ahead, we gave our attendees the opportunity to take a break from the norm and gather for breakfast, meaningful conversation and a glimpse into Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s world.

    Even with the temperatures dropping, attendees warmed our hearts with their generous donations, and we’re grateful for the $53,560 the event has grossed so far.

    2020 For the Love of Books breakfast honorary host Sallie Page-Goertz speaking to audience members.

    Throughout the morning, inspiration came in many forms as Sallie challenged us to envision what it would feel like for a child on a day-to-day basis that didn’t have access to books or know how to read, how reading would feel like a difficult code. To put this theory to the test, ROR-KC staff made a code listed on the For the Love of Books breakfast programs for attendees to decipher. The code resulted in: Books Are Awesome!

    In Kansas City’s lowest income neighborhoods, research estimates only one book is owned in the home per 300 children. ROR-KC  is doing all we can to bridge this gap so that all children in the Kansas City area have a book to call their own.

    Sallie then explained an interesting Princeton University study conducted earlier this year, click here to read more. A team of Princeton researchers developed a new way to measure baby and adult brain activity during natural interaction. It’s not your imagination — you and your baby or grandbaby really are on the same wavelength!

    Our guests were then treated to an insightful Q&A lead by Fox 4’s Shannon O’Brien towards our Keynote Speakers, local children’s book authors Aja James and Audrey Masoner. We learned more about them as individuals and their journey into how Mayor Sly and the Magic Bow Tie: A Kansas City Adventure” was born.

    ROR-KC would like to extend a special thank you to our event sponsors: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, CommunityAmerica Credit Union, Hallmark, Sallie Page-Goertz & Kenneth Goertz, Pamela Madaus & William McLean III and The Walsh Family Foundation. 

    ROR-KC would also like to extend a special thank you to this year’s For the Love of Books breakfast committee: Jeni Cosgrove (Chair), Tanya Rodecker Wendt, Laura Blasi MD, Angie Endicott, Cynde Fry, Elizabeth Hobart, and Tiffany Wu. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to this event!

    Thank you to Fox 4’s Shannon O’Brien for being our Emcee for the morning and to the staff at Grand Street Cafe.

    We hope we will have your support for next year’s For the Love of Books breakfast!

  • Special Donation

    Tyler, Kelli and Oakley Boxberger full of smiles as they donate.

    One Kansas City family is doing their part to keep the magic of reading alive for local children through their late son, Jace. This year, to honor Jace on his birthday, Kelli and Tyler Boxberger donated 2,578 new and gently-used books. Just last year, the Boxbergers donated 1,438 books to grow Jace’s Birthday Book Drive.

    “Jace loved books and we tried to instill a love of reading in him from the day he was born. Our hope is that his annual Birthday Book Drive continues to spread literacy and his budding passion for reading. By helping to keep his memory alive not just within our circle of friends and family, but in every child who receives one of his books,” Kelli said.

    We at ROR-KC are so grateful to Tyler, Kelli and their beautiful baby girl, Oakley, who also shares a love of reading!

  • Meet Ellen and Alex

    Ellen and Alex with their favorite children’s book!

    Reach Out and Read Kansas City has two new staff members to welcome! Ellen Quinn has joined ROR-KC as our full-time Event and Communications Coordinator. A lifelong resident of Kansas City, Ellen earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Journalism & Mass Communications from The University of Kansas and has worked as a news anchor and reporter, event planner and marketing/communications coordinator. Ellen is excited to join the team and has a lot to share with her new coworkers. She loves reading, her cat Simba (animals in general), and traveling with her husband and family. Ellen also volunteers at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, KC Pet Project, and Gilda’s Club of Kansas City. When she was a little girl, the local library or book store was her favorite place to be. Some things never change!

    Alex Hernandez is an intern with ROR-KC and a University of Missouri Kansas City senior studying Health Sciences. Although she is undecided on what exact path she wants to pursue in life, she is interested in applying her knowledge and skills while at ROR-KC. She hopes to gain more insight into her interests and learn more about how program management works. During her free time, she enjoys reading, playing ukulele or guitar, watching YouTube videos, and volunteering at KC Pet Project. After her internship, Alex plans on staying in Kansas City working closely with a nonprofit.

    Welcome Ellen and Alex!

  • Exclusive Poems = a Very Happy Hour

    Thanks to all who came out for our Fall Librarian’s Club Happy Hour event on Monday, November 4th! We had a great group at Our Daily Nada, a “boozy bookstore” in Kansas City’s River Market. Guests were treated to tasty appetizers and wine, as well as a beautiful poetry reading by local author Lauren Scharhag, who wrote two new poems specifically for our event (see below).

    Local author Lauren Scharhag reads her poems to the Librarian’s Club, including two poems that she wrote specifically for our event.

    Librarian’s Club members also enjoyed sharing their reading recommendations, which was especially helpful as we head into gift-giving season!

    The Librarian’s Club is a group of dedicated literacy supporters who donate $100 or more at one time or are sustaining members who donate $10 or more monthly to Reach Out and Read Kansas City. They also receive a few perks, such as twice-annual happy hour events like this one, free extra raffle tickets at our annual Books On Tap fundraiser and entry into four quarterly prize drawings. Interested in membership? Click here.

    Librarian’s Club members enjoying the poetry reading

    The Reach Out and Read Kansas City Marketing Committee, which is composed of Board Members, planned the fantastic event. Thank you!

    Lauren was kind enough to share with us the two poems that she wrote exclusively for our Happy Hour event, and we are thrilled to share them with you!

    The Page

    By Lauren Scharhag

    When I was fourteen, I huffed books.
    I sat in the sorting room of the library,
    loading up carts, and when no one was looking,
    I buried my nose in their bindings.
    Not just because I loved the smell of books
    but because I wanted to know
    where those books had been.
    I smelled cigarettes and cigar smoke on them,
    I smelled cologne.
    I smelled dogs and woodshops, hot glue,
    schoolrooms, paint, potting soil,
    and, in the case of the old Chilton’s manuals,
    garages and motor oil.
    I smelled spices on the cookbooks and
    sweat on the self-help.
    I found crumbs in the hinges,
    fingerprinted pages, smudges of chocolate,
    and far too often, bodily fluids
    (which we will not dwell on).
    I noted the dog-eared pages,
    read the musings scrawled in margins,
    triaged the ripped and torn,
    tossed heaps of scrap paper
    that had served as bookmarks,
    shredded old bank statements,
    rescued a love letter or two,
    tracked down the owner of
    an uncashed paycheck
    unwisely stowed in the chapters
    of a Sue Grafton.
    The old checkout system
    was already gone,
    so I could no longer see
    who had read these books before me;
    I could only sniff at them,
    attempting to track their journey
    the way Sherlock Holmes,
    with his olfactory genius,
    charted London.
    The return dates stopped at 1988,
    the volumes in my hands
    people already thought of
    too much as artifacts,
    but not the kind I mean—
    how I wanted to tell them
    what these pages reveal,
    how they are the guide and the journey,
    the treasure and the map,
    the testimony, the evidence, and the scene.
    I want them to read what is left in the wake
    of this borrowing and returning:
    books made of pulp and gray matter,
    humans made of dust and dreams.

    Suburban Library

    By Lauren Scharhag

    No stone lions,
    no columns or mezzanines,
    just cinderblock and indestructible carpet,
    the place we retreated to
    on long, pre-internet afternoons.
    The stacks were our ideal habitat.
    We went together with books
    the way some girls go with horses
    or tomboys go with softball.
    We won every reading contest,
    earned every slice of BOOK IT! pizza,
    overidentified with Belle—
    not because the local jock was into us, obviously,
    but because we talked to clocks,
    imploring them to hurry us into adulthood.
    Here was the one place we could go
    where our curiosity was not met
    with strange looks.
    Boys, assigned as partners in class,
    met us in the study areas.
    They didn’t know or pretended not to know
    how to use the Microfiche or the card catalog
    and sat with their feet up while we did all the work.
    It was my first after-school job,
    and other teenagers, never there voluntarily,
    would follow me around, asking,
    “So, do you, like, get paid to work here?”
    Because they could, only too easily,
    envision me wrangling books for free.
    I bet if you go there now,
    you can still find the old bookend
    where I scratched my name on the bottom,
    my paperback stash in the corner
    where I used to hole up
    to read during my shifts.
    Girls like me read books the way
    pilots hit the eject button,
    the way the buried alive
    claw at the walls of their coffins,
    the way young birds leap
    from their nests.
    We inhabit libraries even as they
    inhabit us.

    Thank you, Lauren, for the beautiful poems and for sharing your talents with our Librarian’s Club!

  • Welcome New Board Member Abdul Yahaya!

    When AbdulRasak Yahaya was young, his father read to him from his UMKC civil engineering books. “Lucky for me, my mom read me more age-appropriate bedtime stories,” says Abdul, “but this balance of reading is what allowed me to eliminate the achievement/opportunity gap in my own life and become a successful entrepreneur.”  

    Now, Abdul wants to help other kids do the same, through the two Open Minds Child Development Center locations that he and his wife Alicia, started, and by joining the Reach Out and Read Kansas City Board. “My passion and business align directly with ROR-KC’s mission.” He says he had a true “ah-ha” moment when his three daughters (aged nine, six and three) received books at their well child visits (likely from ROR-KC). “My daughters looked forward to their pediatric visits because of the memories we created with the books received.” He says he was thrilled to be asked to join the board. “I was celebrating on the inside and excited to use my skills as a transformational leader to invigorate the KC Metro to “Reach Out and Read!”

    “I am ready to serve!”

    (Abdul with his wife Alicia and three daughters, Avery, Aliyah and Aubree)

    Abdul’s parents were both immigrants; his mother from  the Caribbean island of Curacao, his father from Nigeria, where Abdul was born. Abdul grew up in Kansas City and is a proud graduate of Rockhurst High School and Kansas State University. He worked as a civil engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation and other public agencies for a decade before launching Open Minds in 2016. 

    Abdul hopes to learn as much as he gives while serving on the board, as he intends to start a non-profit focused on early childhood education with his wife in the future. “My Pastor always uses the analogy of an open hand when talking about giving and receiving. When your hand is open it is taken from as well as it is able to receive. If you only focus on what’s being taken and close your hand you will never be able to receive. I extend my open hand to ROR-KC and am ready to serve.” 

    Abdul joined the board in July, along with Ben Gebhards, whom we’ll introduce you to next month. Welcome, Abdul, and thank you for sharing your time and talents with us!

  • Janice’s Late Summer Bookshelf: Beautiful and Time For Bed

    Most months, we post a book recommendation from our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs. She’s spent 17 years curating the collection of developmentally-appropriate books that Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides to our partner medical clinics to hand out at well child visits. She knows books!


    This month, we’re posting a couple books because sometimes there are just too many good ones from which to choose! Enjoy!


    beautiful book cropped for newsletter


    Written by Stacy McAnulty
    Illustrated by Joann Lew-Vriethoff
    Published by Scholastic
    Age Range: 3-6 years old


    This is a new book to our Reach Out and Read library, and I am very excited to be able to offer it to our families! Girls of many ethnicities are shown throughout this book engaging in activities often thought of as “only for boys.” Uniqueness is celebrated as girls are shown pursuing talents, facing challenges, showing compassion and having fun. With vivid illustrations, this book explores the endless potential that girls have as it encourages them to discover new things and to use their imaginations. Young children (ages 3-6) and those sharing the book with them will love the message that “girls are smart and strong!”


    time for bed book picture

    Time for Bed

    Written and Illustrated by Petr Horacek
    Published by Candlewick Press
    Age Range : birth – 3 years old

    You can never have too many books that help your little ones calm down at the end of the day, and this one is bound to be a favorite! The board book format, simple text and bright colors of this book make it suitable for even the youngest children. It helps to reinforce bedtime routines — I love that reading a story is included! Children will enjoy turning the sturdy graduated pages that eventually reveal a little boy snug in his bed ready to go to sleep. Petr Horacek has written a variety of board books that are sure to please children (and their parents!).

    — Janice Dobbs

    Janice Dobbs has been the Book Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for over 17 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of thousands of books annually to our partner clinics. 

  • Books On Tap: Almost Here! Meet Your Co-Chairs

    Our 8th annual Books On Tap  is almost here, and this year promises to be exciting and delicious with new features and local favorites. Grab a ticket and join us for Kansas City’s most unique happy hour, September 18th at the River Market Event Place from 5-8 p.m.


    food sponsors bot

    Thanks to generous local businesses, we’ve got delectable eats lined up, including sushi from Blue Sushi Sake Grill, sandwiches from Schlotzsky’s Deli, street corn from Mission Taco Joint, desserts from Betty Rae’s Ice CreamMcLain’s Bakery and more.


    You won’t be thirsty, either. There will be mixed drinks featuring Rieger whiskey and vodka, wine and a huge variety of beer from local brewers, including Big RipBoulevardCasual AnimalDouble ShiftStockyards and more.


    As always, we’ll have a raffle and silent auction, featuring one-of-a-kind prizes, such as wine tastings, a farm and food tour, bagels for a year, a brewery tasting for 10 and tickets to local attractions. New this year, Books On Tap will also feature a caricature artist sponsored by Ascend Learning and a wine pull sponsored by the ROR-KC Board.





    A big thank you to our brewer level sponsors: CommunityAmerica Credit Union,  Lucas Commercial Flooring and Mark Van Blaricum!

    Tickets are limited, so get yours now (click here)!

    BOT graphic for newsletter

    Books On Tap wouldn’t happen without our fantastic, dedicated committee. Heading up the group this year are co-chairs Matt Araiza (this is his fourth year!) and Kristen Oliver. We asked them to weigh in on the this year’s event.


    Q: Matt, this is your fourth year heading up the Books On Tap committee. Why do you keep coming back?


    Matt: “Reach Out and Read is just such a great organization. It helps the community, right here in Kansas City, get children ready for Kindergarten, and that starts with providing them from the get-go with books. Books On Tap is a perfect way to make that happen”


    Q: Kristen, why did you want to get involved with Books On Tap and ROR-KC?


    Kristen: “After hearing about the mission of the fundraiser, I was so excited to see what my past experience could do to benefit this amazing organization. As the mother of a six-year-old who loves to read, I understand the importance of children being introduced to books at an early age, and I’ve seen how it helps them to succeed in school.”


    Q: Matt, what do you love about Books On Tap?


    Matt: “Books On Tap is a super fun networking event with local food and adult beverages from KC favorites and lots of raffle and auction prizes. It’s a laid back time where you can grab some friends or co-workers or meet some new people. It’s so special because it is completely 100% made possible by partners in the community – people that support this organization and believe in it and see what’s happening.”


    Q: Kristen, what are you most excited about for Books On Tap this year?


    Kristen: “Making this the best year yet! Each year the fundraiser has out-performed the previous one, and I’m looking forward to doing that again!”


    Thank you both for your hard work and dedication. Books On Tap 2019 is going to be awesome!

  • Librarian’s Club Fun and Summer Reading List

    Thanks to the Librarian’s Club members and their guests who joined us for a fun happy hour in June at the boozy bookstore Our Daily Nada in Kansas City’s River Market area!



    Members put together a summer reading list, and we can’t wait to get started on it! We figured it was too good not to share:


    The Hunting Party – Lucy Foley


    Educated – Tara Westover


    Sissy – Jacob Tobia


    Slightly South of Simple – Kristy Woodson Harvey


    Semiosis – Sue Burke


    How Long ‘Til Black Future Month – N.K. Jemisin


    The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah


    Chinaberry Sidewalks – Rodney Crowell


    I am not your perfect Mexican Daughter – Erika Sanchez


    With Love From the Inside – Anglea Pisel


    The Song of the Jade Lily – Kristy Manning


    The Jeff Trask Series – Marc Rainer




    All in all, it was a wonderful evening that included not only this fabulous book list, but great appetizers and wine and even better company.






    We raffled off a book collection for one child in honor of one of our guests, and the winner was Michele Kilo, M.D., co-founder of Reach Out and Read KC.
















    The event was planned and sponsored in part by the Advisory Board’s Marketing Committee. Thanks to this wonderful group for their energy and support! See more photos from the event here.

    The Librarian’s Club is a group of dedicated literacy champions who donate $100 or more annually to ROR-KC. Find out more about the Librarian’s Club here.

  • Janice’s Bookshelf: June Recommendation

    At the Farmer's Market book picture

    Most months, we post a book recommendation from our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs.  She’s spent 17 years curating the collection of developmentally-appropriate books that Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides to our partner medical clinics to hand out at well child visits. She knows books!


    Here’s her June pick!


    At the Farmer’s Market
    Illustrated by Steffane McClary
    Edited by Anna W. Bardaus
    Published by: Scholastic
    Age Range: 2-6 years old


    At the Farmer’s Market is published by Scholastic. This brightly colored book is made of sturdy pages and features a diverse group of people shopping for healthy foods at their local Farmer’s Markets. Children will enjoy the “seek and find” pictures on each page and talking about the yummy fruits and vegetables depicted. It is also great for teaching colors and about the seasons. The back cover gives several suggestions to parents on how to expand on the concepts presented in the book as well. There is an English version and a bilingual version.

    – Janice Dobbs


    Janice Dobbs has been the Book Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for over 17 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of over 80,000 books annually to our partner clinics.


    Follow us on social media for photos, news, literacy-related research and other fun items!

    Check our FacebookTwitter  and Instagram  accounts!

  • Thank You Out-going ROR-KC Board Members!


    (left to right) Out-going Board Members Mary Olive Joyce, Susanne Mahoney and Marshaun Butler. Not Pictured: Gharib Gharibi



    It is with great appreciation and gratitude that we bid farewell to four fantastic Advisory Board members, including one who’s served for 21 years. Three years ago, ROR-KC adopted new guidelines for board members that included term limits in an effort to maximize energy and engagement. Terms are three years, with the option to extend to a second term. As we approach a new fiscal year, Mary Olive Joyce, Susanne Mahoney, Marshaun Butler and Gharib Gharibi are rolling off the board.


    Susanne is the longest serving board member in ROR-KC history, having started when the board (then called the Community Council) was founded 21 years ago. “I have loved being a part of ROR-KC and have learned that the program truly makes a difference!” she says. Susanne is a Speech Language Pathologist in the Kansas City, KS school district. She says her most rewarding experience was when ROR-KC co-founder Dr. Jean Harty asked her to present at the National Conference in Boston nearly two decades ago. “She made me go over to her house to practice the speech with each slide and made sure I knew what to say. It was an incredible honor to talk about our unique coalition; the only ROR group that spans the state line. I met many other ROR program leaders and was so inspired by all.”


    Marshaun Butler, a Vice President at Children’s Mercy Hospital, has been on the Advisory Board for six years. She says she’s enjoyed “connecting and collaborating with colleagues who believe in the power and importance of early literacy. The degree of importance early literacy can make for a child is astonishing. The impact carries over a lifetime!” Marshaun says volunteering at clinics has been most rewarding, and she loves watching the magic happen when children are read to: “The sparkle in their eyes, the excitement in their smile and most importantly, the desire for more after the story ends.”


    Gharib Gharibi, a doctoral candidate at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, has been on the board for three years. He was very involved in establishing the Race to Read 5K, now in its third year.


    Mary Olive Joyce is a Librarian with the Kansas City Public Library who’s been on the board for three years. She says what she enjoyed most about her time with ROR-KC falls in line with her career. “I love helping parents and families grow in their love of books and reading!”


    This year, we’ve welcomed seven new Advisory Board members. Learn more about them here. In July, we will welcome two more new members. Mary Olive has some advice for them all: “Roll up your sleeves and dig in. The best part of being on the board is doing the work and making ROR-KC stronger so that we can foster future generations of readers.” We couldn’t have said it any better!


    Thank you, Mary Olive, Gharib, Marshaun and Susanne for sharing your time and talents with ROR-KC and the children of our communities!


    Follow us on social media for photos, news, literacy-related research and other fun items!

    Check our FacebookTwitter  and Instagram  accounts!

  • Chiefs Hall-of-Famer Will Shields Teams up With ROR-KC

    Professional Football Hall-of-Famer Will Shields has been promoting literacy at one local elementary school for more than two decades, and ROR-KC was once again a lucky recipient of his generosity in May. The former Kansas City Chiefs lineman spent the day at Meadow Lane Elementary in Olathe with our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs, helping to collect books for ROR-KC.

    Meadow Lane challenges students to read for at least 200 days each school year. Those that do receive a book, and many children donate that new book to ROR-KC. Shields says literacy is a special cause for him and for his Will to Succeed Foundation.






    “To build up self-esteem you have to have knowledge and understand what you’re doing and if you can’t read or write…then you don’t have that knowledge base, so you can’t learn anymore.” — Will Shields  




    The fifth-graders who read at least 200 days also get a pizza party with Will, and the opportunity to get his autograph. 5th grader Michael McKeever (pictured to the left of Shields) was thrilled to meet the athlete. “He’s actually a pretty cool guy! He went to a ton of different tables, to meet everyone and hang out with everyone.” Fellow 5th grader Jonathan Mudd (pictured to the right of Shields) agreed. “Mr. Shields is really, really nice – outgoing and easy to talk to.” Both boys said Suzanne Collins’s Gregor the Overlander series was the best thing they read during their 200 days (our Communications Coordinator agrees that it’s a great middle grade series).

    “I love that the culture at Meadow Lane School is all about encouraging students to read,” says ROR-KC’s Janice Dobbs,”and that they teach their students about giving back to the community.” Meadow Lane also holds an assembly, where all 400-plus students perform a fun song about the importance of reading and Shields throws autographed foam footballs to the fifth-graders. “Reading is the most important thing we do,” says Meadow Lane Principal Brian Lowe, “and we try to make it fun for the kids. This is the best day of the year as far as I’m concerned.”


    The school also holds a book drive for Reach Out and Read KC, and this year collected over 1,200 books for us!  Thank you, Meadow Lane and Will Shields!


    Follow us on social media for photos, news, literacy-related research and other fun items!

    Check our FacebookTwitter  and Instagram  accounts!

  • Summer Reading Programs: Great For All Ages!

    kidsReadingOutsideSchool’s out, and the calendars of our local libraries and other organizations are packed with fun literacy-themed activities and events. There are also free books to be earned!


    Even though libraries ramp up the incentives to read this time of year to prevent the “summer slide” of school-aged kids, the programs are great for readers of all ages. You can sign up the littlest readers, who earn books by being read to, and even adults in some programs (last year our Communications Coordinator earned a free tote bag in Mid-Continent’s adult reading program).


    We’re lucky enough to have several fantastic library systems in our area – as well as other organizations- offering summer programs.  Most of them are outer space-themed. We’ve rounded them up for you.


    kck logo


    Kansas City, Kansas Public Library: A Universe of Stories

    This program is for readers of all ages, including teens and adults. Readers log their books and activities to earn points, and then free books, as well as the chance to win prizes and library bucks. There are a wide variety of family-friendly events on the library calendar as well. Click here for more information and to sign up for the program.



    dare to discover

    Kansas City, Missouri Public Library: Dare to Discover

    This program also caters to readers of all ages, including teens and adults. You even get a free book just for registering. According to the library’s website, the theme is “a nod to our collective spacefaring legacy and amibitons to explore the unknown, but it’s also an invitation – and a challenge – to use the Library and its resources to learn, grow and endeavor to know more about our world and how it works.” Readers log their books, and can earn a sippy cup, light-up cup or pint glass. There are also myriad events and activities for families to enjoy. Click here for more information and to sign up for the program.



    mid contientnt

    Mid-Continent Public Library: A Universe of Stories

    Also an outer-space themed program, Mid-Continent has separate programs for younger and adult readers. All involve logging books and activities for points/badges, and to earn free books (up to 4), or for adults, a T-shirt or tote bag. The library system’s many branches have also scheduled a wide variety of programs, from music to wildlife to yoga and science. Click here for more information and to sign up for the program.


    joco logo


    Johnson County Public Library: A Universe of Stories

    You can stop by the library to pick up a free book (while supplies last), and all readers are encouraged to track the books they read this summer. There are lots of activities planned with authors, astronomers, astronauts and more. Click here for more information or to register for the program.




    Olathe Public Library: A Universe of Stories

    Olathe offers programs for kids, teens and adults as well. Kids can earn prizes by logging their books as well as writing reviews and going to activities. There’s also a kids’ summer bookmark contestClick here for more information or to register for the program.





    Turn the Page KC: Summer Reading Splash

    Turn the Page will hold a free summer reading celebration on Wednesday, June 19th, at the Sprint Center, along with KC Mayor Sly James. The citywide summer reading celebration will feature more than 2,000 K-3rd grade students, as well as activities and performances to get kids excited about reading. There will also be a free book fair! Find out more here.




  • Inaugural Librarian’s Club Event Announced!

    Join us for the Inaugural Librarian's Club Happy Hour

    Reach Out and Read Kansas City is excited to announce our inaugural Librarian’s Club event!

    This exclusive event will take place on June 10th from 5-7 p.m. at one of Kansas City’s best places to combine your love of books and fun: Our Daily Nada, a “boozy bookstore” in Kansas City’s exciting River Market district (304 Delaware Street, KCMO,64105).


    We truly appreciate our supporters and we love our Librarian’s Club! The Club, a group of dedicated literacy champions who donate $100 or more annually, launched in November 2018. We promised members goodies such as extra raffle tickets, invitations to exclusive events, and entries into special quarterly prize drawings.


    We’re looking forward to celebrating our Librarian’s Club members on June 10th with great music and complimentary wine, and yummy snacks. We’ll also have beer and other drinks available for purchase.


    But that’s not all! We’ll also support our mission through a free raffle to build a child’s summer library in a Librarian’s Club member’s name, and share summer reading recommendations together.


    Not a member of the Librarian’s Club yet? Hey, friends don’t let friends miss out on fun ways to support our community! If you, or someone you know, wants to join this great group of Reach Out and Read Kansas City supporters, you can join the Librarian’s Club right here with your donation of $100 or more.

    Check out this link for more information about the event.

  • Janice’s Bookshelf: May Recommendation

    Square Wheels on the bus for newsletter and blog - from canva


    The Wheels on the Bus
    Illustrated by Annie Kubler
    Published by Child’s Play International, Ltd.


    Age Range: Board book version: 6-24 months, paperback version: 2-5 years


    This is one book in a 20-book series called “Classic Books with Holes,” published by Child’s Play. There are board book versions which are perfect for the younger set (6-24 months) and paperback versions for those a bit older (2-5 years). These tried and true rhymes are as much fun to read as they are to listen to. What makes these versions special is that each page contains innovative die-cutting; children will have fun looking through the “holes” and predicting “what comes next.” We have provided books from this series for well child visits as part of the ROR-KC program as well. Of course, parent and child alike may end up singing through the pages, and this version of a classic has an added twist: each person getting on the bus is going to the same place. Can you guess where it is?


    Bonus: Here’s a cute video of a mother and daughter singing/reading the board book version of this fun book.

    – Janice Dobbs


    Janice Dobbs has been the Book Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for over 17 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of over 80,000 books annually to our partner clinics. 

  • Reach Out and Read Celebrates 30 Years

    30th logo FULL RESOLUTION cropped for newsletter article



    30 years ago, you could find the Reach Out and Read program at one clinic in the Boston area. There were two pediatricians serving 500 children.


    Today, the early childhood literacy program has grown to 32,700 providers at 6,000 healthcare facilities  nationwide! Each year, affiliates around the country, like Reach Out and Read KC, distribute more than seven million new books to 4.7 million children.





    Reach Out and Read was founded by two forward-thinking doctors, Barry Zuckerman (pictured, left) and Robert Needlman, and a group of early childhood educators at Boston City Hospital, now called Boston Medical Center. The group was inspired by moms reading to children in the waiting room.


    Today, there are affiliates in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C. The program serves one in four children living in poverty in the United States. Among the most noteworthy  milestones was this policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2014, promoting literacy as an “essential component of pediatric primary care,” and referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention.


    Locally, Reach Out and Read Kansas City celebrates 22 years as an affiliate of the national Reach Out and Read program this year. We were founded in 1997 by doctors Jean Harty and Michele Kilo and as a collaboration between Children’s Mercy Hospital and KU Pediatrics in The University of Kansas Health System.


    Want more information about National Reach Out and Read? Click here to view a timeline of the organization’s history.

  • Staff Recipes: Almond Cake, Buffalo Dip, Shortbread and More!

    If you’ve been involved with Reach Out and Read for awhile, you’ve no doubt tasted – or at least heard of – Janice’s famous Almond Cake. In her 18 years with ROR-KC, Janice Dobbs, our Book Coordinator, has made the cake dozens of times for events, and shared the recipe with numerous people. Lucky for us, she’s sharing it again now for everyone to enjoy!

    At our recent volunteer appreciation event, other staff members contributed some of their favorite dishes as well, and we thought we’d include them all, just in case you have a hankering for a good buffalo dip (from Executive Director Jenny Horsley) or shortbread cookies (from Communications Coordinator Marianne Sharp) or meatballs with raspberry sauce (from Medical Director Sallie Page-Goertz).


    Janice’s Almond Sheet Cake


    1 cup Butter
    1 cup Water
    2 cups Flour
    2 cups Sugar
    ½ cup Sour Cream
    2 whole Eggs
    1-½ to 2 tsp. Real Almond Extract
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1 teaspoon Salt
    ½ cup Butter (frosting)
    ¼ cup Milk (frosting)
    3-½ to 4 cups Powdered Sugar (frosting)
    1-2 tsp. Real Almond Extract (frosting)


    Bring butter and water to a boil. Mix flour and sugar in a large bowl. Pour the boiling liquid over the flour and sugar and mix well. (I use a hand mixer)

    Add the remaining ingredients and beat well.

    Pour into a well-greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 375 for about 15-17 minutes. (top should be just beginning to get light brown) Once cake is out of the oven you should begin making frosting.


    Bring butter and milk to a boil.  Add almond extract and then add powdered sugar in several increments—beating in between additions. Frosting should be thin enough to pour—need to do this quickly before frosting hardens up on cake.

    From Executive Director Jenny Horsley:

    Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

    1 Rotisserie Chicken (or 2-3 chicken breasts), cooked & shredded

    2 packages cream cheese, softened

    1 cup Frank’s Red Hot – Original – they have a buffalo sauce, but I like the original better

    1 Tbs Butter

    1 cup of Ranch or Bleu Cheese Dressing (optional) – I usually do not add dressing, but it does make a difference, especially if you like bleu cheese.

    2 cups Mozzarella Cheese, divided

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    In skillet, melt butter and mix in chicken and Red Hot Sauce. Once mixed well, add cream cheese and 1/2 cup of Mozz Cheese.  Once creamy pour into 8×8 pan. Add dressing if desired, then add remaining cheese on top evenly.

    Bake for 20 minutes.

    My pan is 9×9, so I used 3 pkg. cream cheese, but everything else was the same as using an 8×8 pan.

    4 packages of cream cheese will fill a 9×13 pan. No need to double chicken, but I usually add another chicken breast – In a pinch I have even used canned chicken and it was fine. Increase Mozz. cheese by at least 1 cup.

    Here is former Communications Coordinator, Marianne’s Sharp’s favorite recipe, Alison Roman’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies.

    And Medical Director Sallie Page-Goertz uses Bob’s Raspberry Chipotle sauce on her meatballs – and it is scrumptious!


  • Race to Read 5K: A Big Win!




    runners with sign take 3- 2MB

    They say the third time’s the charm…and our third annual Race to Read 5K certainly was a winner! 109 people signed up for the race, which was held on Saturday, April 6th at Corporate Woods. Thanks to our runners, sponsors and volunteers, we were able to raise over $6,000 to support our early childhood literacy program.










    winning girl take 3 MB


    Congratulations to our winners! Our top male finisher was Kevin Knowlton, who zoomed through the 5K course with a time of 16:15.534, and our top female finisher (and third overall) was Sydney Willard (pictured here, just before she crosses the pink finish line), who sped through in 22:51.001. You’ll find the full race results here.













    dana cute son take 3-2MB



    We also had a great kids fun run, complete with bubbles. Check out this cute winner!













    father and son running take 2MB


    There were a lot of parent/child pairs that ran the 5K together. It was fantastic to see!














    liz and AJ2MB

    A.J. Gaither of Mudflap Mafia (pictured here with ROR-KC  Advisory Board Member Liz Vasquez) provided a fantastic musical backdrop. If you’d like to catch the full band in action, check out their schedule.












    sallie and jenny take 2 MB


    “It was a real team effort,” says ROR-KC Executive Director Jenny Horsley, (pictured at right with ROR-KC Medical Director, Sallie Page-Goertz). “Wild Cowboy Timing Company, Committee Chair Truss Tyson and our volunteers made sure things went smoothly, and our sponsors ensured that we could put on a great race while still raising funds for literacy.”








    tegan cute with face paint 2MB


    Major sponsors included Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas City, KeyBank and Lucas Commercial Flooring. Here is the full list of sponsors.


    Thanks to everyone who took part in the 5K, as well as the many volunteers who helped us to organize and run the event, particularly Allie Younggren, who coordinated the volunteers on race day.


    We got lots of great photos of runners and volunteers in action. Check out race photos here.

  • Janice’s Bookshelf: April Recommendation

    Caps for Sale Image


    Caps For Sale 

    Told and Illustrated by Esphyr Slobodkina
    Published by Harper Collins
    Age Range: 4-8 yrs 


    This “Reading Rainbow Book” is a timeless classic that has entertained many generations. Children will love the humorous story of a peddler trying to outwit the monkeys. There is lots of repetition in this book, which makes it a fun read for children and adults alike. Young ones can practice their counting skills and color knowledge while they listen to this warm story that helps to teach about conflict resolution as well. This bright picture book comes in board, paperback and hardback editions, and is great for ages 4-8. Be ready for lots of giggles as you share this book with the young ones in your life!
    – Janice Dobbs


    Janice Dobbs has been the Book Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for over 17 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of over 80,000 books annually to our partner clinics. 

  • Welcome New Board Members!

    photo of new board members with border for mailchimp square size

    (left to right: Eli Colmenero, Neesha Hitchcock, Kelly Jernigan, Jamie Elwood, Megan Sturges Stanfield, Bill Eckert, Jenny Garmon)


    We are welcoming seven new Advisory Board members this year! This phenomenal group includes people with a wide variety of skills and expertise who all have one thing in common: a passion for literacy and ROR-KC.


    Eli Colmenero is an Insurance Tax Associate at MarksNelson, LLC. He’s an attorney who’s been involved with ROR-KC for several years as a volunteer Books On Tap committee member, and is excited to join the Advisory Board. He comes from a family of teachers and family literacy has always been important to him. He believes strongly in the mission of preparing children to enter kindergarten as prepared as they can possibly be.


    Neesha Hitchcock has been working at Children’s Mercy Hospital since 2011. Her current role is Director of Operations. She volunteers with Girls on the Run, Junior League and Boys and Girls Club, and is a member of the Greater KC Chamber Centurions. Neesha is passionate about helping the community’s most vulnerable children. She understands that reading aloud at a young age is key to building a strong imagination and understanding of the world…and every child deserves that opportunity.


    Kelly Jernigan, J.D., CFA is a portfolio manager at the Commerce Trust Company. He has worked as a public defender, public school teacher and investment analyst.  He is excited to be a part of ROR-KC because of its focus on the importance of parental involvement in developing early childhood literacy.


    Jamie Elwood is a Literacy Coach for Juniper Gardens Children’s Project through a Literacy 3D grant. She’s an early childhood special education teacher and she has a degree in language and literacy. Jamie loves working with ROR-KC because it’s the only program that does early intervention paired with a child’s well visit. She feels strongly about making a difference so that local children are successful later in life.


    Megan Sturges Stanfield is a life-long lover of books. She holds vivid memories of being read to as a child and now loves reading with her niece and nephew and showering them with books. Megan’s passion to make a difference and create change drives her professional and volunteer work. From the early days of her career serving as a parent educator with Early Head Start to her current role as President & CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City, she is dedicating her time and energy to providing opportunities for kids to succeed. Megan is also a former Executive Director of ROR-KC.


    Bill Eckert is a financial advisor, national speaker, author and Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy. Bill’s unique specialty is using tax-reducing strategies which allow people to make charitable contributions. This creates a win-win situation for individuals and charities. He’s excited to be part of the ROR-KC team because he feels that education is the key to success and it starts with early childhood literacy.


    Jenny Garmon loves supporting children and building stronger communities.  The unique nature of ROR-KC’s foundation in medical science and heartfelt volunteer work appeals to Jenny, and she enjoys being a volunteer reader at a clinic. She is honored to work with the dynamic and talented members of the board, while bringing her creativity, energy and passion for collaboration to the table.

  • Celebrating 10 Years As a Volunteer Reader With ROR-KC


    Every Tuesday afternoon, the patients and staff at Baby and Child Associates can count on two things: volunteer Susan Hannah and Pete the Cat. “I just love Pete the Cat books!,” says the retired elementary school teacher (pictured, left), who’s been faithfully reading to patients and siblings at Baby and Child for ten years.


    Each week, she settles in at the child-size table and chairs in one corner of the colorful waiting room and engages children with a book. And more often than not, it’s Pete the Cat. “I even went out and bought a couple of Pete the Cat books, because I can really get the kids involved with those. I’ll ask, what do you think Pete’s going to do next? Or how do you think he stepped in those strawberries?” Often, they sing along about Pete’s white shoes.


    Volunteering at the same clinic for ten years has its advantages. Susan says sometimes the children recognize her. “I’ve had a couple of them come in the door and go, ‘Oh, she’s here, look!’ Then they’ll come over to the table and sit down to listen.”


    What makes her keep coming back, year after year? “I really think reading to those kids makes a difference. They look forward to that attention. You know, if you have the excitement in your voice or if you growl when it’s appropriate in the book, or you act surprised with a funny look on your face, that’s important to the kids, because then they see how exciting reading can be.”


    Susan says parents sometimes join their children at the reading table, and she knows that they’re paying attention, too. 


    “That’s what I try to get across to the parents…even if you only read one book at night when you put them to bed, that’s going to help them with vocabulary and overall learning and to know that you’re interested and you want them to learn to read. They can discover so much. It’s awesome.”


    Awesome, indeed. That sounds like something Pete the Cat would say.


    Thank you, Susan, for sharing your time and talents! Susan is one of about three dozen volunteer readers who read regularly at a partner clinic. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer reader, contact Marianne Sharp: msharp5@kumc.edu.

  • Hooked on Books by the Numbers: 13,000 Books, 16 schools, 50+ Volunteers!

    Hooked on Books Mouse Logo jpg


    Hooked on Books is a lot like a puzzle. There are many pieces involved in our biggest and most important annual book drive and we are grateful to the volunteers, elementary schools and staff members who ensure that those pieces fit together perfectly.


    ROR-KC’s longtime Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs, is the puzzle master. This year she coordinated with librarians and administrators at 16 different elementary schools and one business (Rainy Day Books).


    Photo of books collected at Hawthorn Elementary



    Schools ran their drives between January and March, and Advisory Board members and other volunteers helped out by dropping off big red collection bins and picking up the boxes of books. The schools compete and the winning school (the one which collects the most books per student) wins a Scholastic gift certificate and a celebration for one classroom.


    We have a winner!


    Congratulations to Lone Jack Elementary, for winning this year’s competition! Lone Jack collected nearly six books per student. Way to go, Lone Jack! A special thank you to Denna Coulson, Library Media Specialist at Lone Jack, who put an incredible amount of effort into a successful drive.


    Together, all 16 schools collected 13,000 books.



    What do we do with all of them? Many  will go into ROR-KC pediatric clinic waiting rooms for patients and siblings to take home.  Many books appropriate for older readers were shared with ten other literacy organizations.


    The Sorting Party


    That’s a lot of books to sort through, and a huge group of volunteers is essential!




    On Saturday, March 23rd, nearly 50 volunteers came to the ROR-KC offices to help us sticker and sort about 7,000 books.




    It was a really fun, productive morning, and we could never have done it without the great volunteers!




    Six volunteers from Cerner delivered the heavy boxes of books to several locations on Monday, March 25th.

    Thank you to everyone involved!


    The Hooked on Books drive provided ROR-KC with enough books to stock our pediatric clinic partner waiting rooms for three or four months, which is wonderful!


    We are always in need of gently-used children’s books (especially board books for the little ones). If you’re interested in holding a book drive – including a virtual drive – here’s how you can help.

  • Race to Read 5K: Exciting Changes!

    RACE TO READ Logo-Small for Web

    Race to Read is coming up Saturday April 6th, 2019!


    Wait, you might be saying, isn’t Race to Read an August event? Well, it WAS. Now, it’s a can’t-miss spring 5K run/walk and family-friendly event!


    Register today at KCRacetoRead.com.


    There’s another important change, too. We’ve moved to Corporate Woods in Overland Park, a private flat course known for personal records.  With so many new and exciting things happening with the race this year, we asked Race to Read Committee Chair (and ROR-KC Advisory Board Member) Truss Tyson to give us the straight scoop.


    Q: What’s different about Race to read this year?


    Truss:  We are expecting more participants than we’ve ever had in the past, and we are very excited to host the race in the new Corporate Woods location. The change to the early spring date will also hopefully allow us to take advantage of nice weather.


    Q: Why are we changing locations?


    Truss: We are thrilled about the move to Corporate Woods, as it allows for growth in race participants and it will be a private course with no obstacles.


    Q: What can you tell us about the race course?


    Truss: It’s a very popular venue because it’s flat and wide, making it the perfect opportunity for racers to set PR’s (personal records)!!


    Q: What kind of event will this be? Is is still family-friends, or is it mostly for serious runners?


    TrussRace to Read is for EVERYONE – all levels of experience and seriousness, and all ages. It will be a stroller-friendly race (kiddos in strollers are free), with a staggered start so that everyone can participate more comfortably. The course is only one lap, and it is a chip-time event.


    Q: Why should I come to Race to Read?


    Truss: Race to Read is an easy way to get involved with a wonderful organization, get in a quick workout (maybe setting a new PR!) and meet some amazing people!


    Thanks, Truss!

    Well, we’re convinced!


    Race to Read will be Saturday, April 6th at 7:30 a.m.


    We’ll have live music and a free bubble run for kids, too!


    Registration is $35 for 16 and older, and $15 for 15 and under. The fee includes a fun race T-shirt.


    When: Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 a.m.
    Where: Corporate Woods (9401 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park, KS)
    Cost: 16 and over$35 (fee includes chip timing and T-shirt)*
             15 and under: $15 (fee includes chip timing and T-shirt)*
    *Register by March 19th to be guaranteed a shirt


  • Janice’s March Bookshelf: “Feast for 10”

    feast for 10 screen grab

    Most months, we post a book recommendation from our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs.  She’s spent 17 years curating the collection of developmentally-appropriate books that Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides to our partner medical clinics to hand out at well child visits. She knows books!


    Here’s her February pick!


    Feast for 10
    Written and illustrated by Cathryn Falwell
    Published by Scholastic
    Age Range: 18 months – 5 yrs

    Feast for 10 – This fun counting book has amazing illustrations that children and adults alike will enjoy. It is a book that recounts a family’s excursion to the grocery store, cooking a meal and then sharing that special meal together. The rhyming text makes it an easy read, and children will enjoy the anticipation that mounts from page to page, ending in a wonderful family celebration. It is a great segue into conversations about family traditions. This book reinforces family values and comes in paperback and board back editions.

    – Janice Dobbs

    Janice Dobbs has been the Book Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for over 17 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of more than 80,000 books annually to our partner clinics.

  • Showing a Love of Literacy: For the Love of Books Breakfast a Big Success!

    uptown marquee resized


    On Valentine’s Day, Kansas City really showed its love of literacy at Reach Out and Read KC’s annual For the Love of Books Breakfast! Led by honorary hosts Cathy and Joe McCaddon (Cathy is also Chair of the ROR-KC Advisory Board), the event at Uptown Theater raised over $88,000 for Reach Out and Read Kansas City, the region’s only medically-based early childhood literacy program.


    cathy and joe resized for blog





















    Honorary Hosts Joe and Cathy McCaddon 


    It’s tough to choose the highlight of the event.  Was it Roasterie Founder Danny O’Neill’s heartfelt keynote address? Mr. Stinky Feet (aka Jim Cosgrove) and Cathy McCaddon’s rendition of Sandra Boynton’s “Snuggle Puppy?” Emcee Dhomonique Ricks of Fox 4 or the video about ROR-KC crafted by Richard Sharp of 41 Action News? And who can forget the take-home goodies for the more than 200 attendees: Roasterie coffee, chocolates from Andres in Overland Park and book lights courtesy of CommunityAmerica.


    resized table for blog






















    One thing does stand out: Our guests’ generosity! Day-of donations totaled more than $20,000 – nearly double our previous record. Thank you! As honorary co-host Cathy McCaddon said, you’re making a real difference in a child’s life during those critical first 1000 days and beyond.


    The total raised at the event was $88,220 and that wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors. That includes Honorary Hosts Joe and Cathy McCaddon, as well as the Eckert Family Foundation, which matched the first $2,500 in day-of donations.


    resized danny for blog





















    Keynote Speaker Danny O’Neill, of the Roasterie


    Emcee Dhomonique Ricks energized the early-morning crowd, and featured presenter Danny O’Neill spoke from the heart about the importance of literacy in his life, including memories of his father reading to Danny and his nine siblings.

    And who could forget Cathy McCaddon and Mr. Stinky Feet singing Sandra Boynton’s “Snuggle Puppy?”


    resized harty photo booth


    Check out the full photo album on Facebook, courtesy of the talented Patty Dover of Life Unstructured Photography.


    We also debuted a new video about the well child visit, the heart of the ROR-KC program. Check it out here on YouTube. A big thanks to Richard Sharp of 41 Action News for his help with the video!


    In addition, we were lucky enough to have two talented Stage Right Performing Arts choirs kick off the morning for us.


    Thanks to all – including the more than 200 people attendees – who made this an extra special Valentine’s Day!

  • Medical Providers Say ROR-KC Leads Families to Read More

    Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 12.09.12 PM (4)

    If you want to know how well a program is working, it’s best to ask the people who are delivering it every day. That’s why a recent survey of ROR-KC medical consultants at our partner clinics is so heartening.

    The survey was administered by National Reach Out and Read and covered a variety of topics about the program. 80% of our Kansas City-area respondents said they thought ROR-KC resulted in either most or many of their patients’ families reading more together.


    Providers felt that urgent matters like food or housing, low literacy skills for caregivers and working multiple jobs or odd hours were the biggest barriers to caregivers sharing books with their children.


    Best of all, some providers shared stories about their favorite interactions related to the ROR program, like this one:


    “A child around age five requested a new copy of a book that was given to him at the age of six months because his original copy had worn out from nightly use as a bedtime story. The look on his face when I gave him a fresh copy was memorable!”


    Thank you to our providers for the great work you do every day!

  • ROR-KC Surprised With $10,000 Grant on Live TV!

    File this one under best surprise ever.
    ROR-KC Executive Director Jenny Horsley was invited to the set of Kansas City Live for National Reading Day, January 23rd. 41 Action News KSHB adopted ROR-KC for its “If You Give a Child a Book” campaign, and donated over 1,300 new books to us earlier in the month (wow!). Jenny thought she was just going to be interviewed about the book donation.
    Then, as Crystle Lampitt was interviewing Jenny, co-host Kelly Nyberg walked out with a giant check for $10,000 from the Scripps Howard Foundation (E.W. Scripps is the parent company of 41 Action News and 38 the Spot)!

    Photo of Jenny, Kelly and Crystle Lampitt with Big check donation from KC Live - credit KC Live

    ROR-KC had been invited to apply for a grant, but it was a national competition, and we had no idea that we’d won. It was a great day for early childhood literacy in KC.

    Crystle and Kelly also visited Baby and Child Associates, one of ROR-KC’s partner clinics and read to the children in the waiting room. Thanks to April Baker and Dr. Krista-Nelson Cox for their assistance!
    Watch the story, interview and giant check presentation here.

  • Janice’s February Bookshelf Recommendation: “Skip Through the Seasons”

    Skip through the seasons screen grab - Feb. book recommendation

    Most months, we post a book recommendation from our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs.  She’s spent 18 years curating the collection of developmentally-appropriate books that Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides to 50 medical clinics to hand out at well child visits. She knows books!


    Here’s her February pick!


    Skip through the Seasons

    Written by Stella Blackstone
    Illustrated by Maria Carluccio
    Published by Barefoot Books
    Age Range: 3-6-years old 


    Skip Through the Seasons– This is an entertaining “seek and find” paperback book that comes in English and Spanish editions.  The rhyming text is fun to read, and very quickly children will learn to pipe in on the refrain, “what can you see?” This book is chock-full of things to look at and talk about and provides a fun way to teach children about the changing seasons. It is great to read to preschoolers, who will also enjoy independently looking at it as they seek and find objects on each page.  It’s a beautifully illustrated book as well!
     – Janice Dobbs


    Janice Dobbs has been the Book Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for over 18 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of over 82,000 books to our 50 partner clinics. 

  • Author Donates 4,700 Books to ROR-KC!

    IMG_9872 (1)


    Children at our 50 partner clinics in the Kansas City area are receiving a beautiful new book, courtesy of author Phyllis Grann. I Will Talk to You, Little One was written by Grann and illustrated by award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola, and will be handed out to families at well child visits for two-to-four-month-olds.



    Grann donated 220,000 copies of the colorful book to National Reach Out and Read, which distributed them among many ROR programs around the country. Reach Out and Read Kansas City was thrilled to receive 4,700 copies.



    Our Medical Director, Sallie Page-Goertz, is a big fan: “The message is simple but very important – talking to one’s baby is important, and the messages show how easy it is to incorporate talking into normal day-to-day activities with baby.”



    Our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs, calls the book “perfect,” noting that our book budget is tight, and this is a wonderful gift. “This book does a great job of relaying the Reach Out and Read message while also being an engaging book that I know parents will enjoy sharing with their little ones,” says Janice.


    Thank you Phyllis Grann!

    IMG_9862 (1)

  • Hooked on Books: Our Biggest Book Drive!

    Hooked on Books Mouse Logo jpg

    We’re Signing Schools Up Now!


    Get registered now for Hooked on Books, Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s biggest annual book drive! Every year, schools throughout the region collect thousands of gently-used books for us (roughly 20,000 last year!), and we use them to stock pediatric clinic waiting rooms.


    Patients and siblings can take these books home to read with their families. By some estimates, nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. do not have books for children at home.  Click here to learn more. We are trying to change that.


    Hooked on Books is critical, as we generally collect about half of the waiting room books we distribute during this major drive, which takes place between January and March.


    To make the drive more fun, schools compete, and the school that collects the most new and gently used books per student wins a pizza party for one classroom, a $500 gift certificate to use at their next Scholastic book fair, and of course, bragging rights!


    If you think your school would be interested, please share this information with your principal or a librarian. Click here for more information.


    Click here to sign up your school.


    We also share some of the books collected with other worthy organizations. Please click here for more information on how to apply to receive books.


    Thanks to the schools that have signed up already! We are looking forward to a successful drive!

  • For the Love of Books Breakfast will Feature the Bean Baron

    You can’t have breakfast without a good cup of coffee, right? Caffeine aside, this year’s For the Love of Books Breakfast will really perk you up, as we’ll be hearing from Kansas City’s own “Bean Baron,” Danny O’Neill, founder and owner of the Roasterie.


    Danny Headshot O'Neill Headshot

    Danny is a life-long Midwesterner who grew up in Iowa and moved to Kansas City after college to earn his MBA from the Rockhurst Executive Fellows Program.


    He fell in love with freshly roasted and brewed coffee while he was living in Costa Rica as a foreign exchange student and launched his business in his Brookside basement in the 90’s. Now, Roasterie coffee is served in KC’s finest cafes, restaurants and institutions, and its air-roasting factory is located under the Douglas DC-3 airplane at 27th Street and Southwest Boulevard (you can’t miss it).












    Why is a coffee guy speaking at the ROR-KC For the Love of Books Breakfast? In his words, “Reading is almost a God-given right in my opinion. It has the power to change the trajectory of one’s life, forever; so, everything follows that…whether I’m a value to society, how good of a family person I am, whether I get involved with crime, etc. The power of literacy cannot be overstated.”


    Goodnight Moon is Danny’s favorite children’s book, and he says his presentation will be about his childhood experiences. “I vividly remember learning to read as a child and how it opened up my world. I cannot imagine a life without it and it breaks my heart to know that there are folks out there who didn’t have that opportunity.”


    To hear Danny’s speech and support early childhood literacy, join us at the For the Love of Books Breakfast on Thursday, February 14th at 7:30 a.m. We are still accepting sponsorships, and you can buy individual tickets here.

  • Books by Local Authors and Illustrators Make Great Gifts


    Books make great gifts and encourage families to read aloud together all year. We thought you might like a few ideas as you finish up your holiday shopping.


    We’re focusing on local authors and illustrators, because Kansas City is rich with local talent. This is just a small sampling, and we hope to feature more local authors and illustrators in the future!


    The Great Puppy Invasion snip

    The Great Puppy Invasion 
    Written by Alistair Heim, Illustrated by Kim Smith
    Best for: ages 4-7
    HMH/Clarion Books


    This is a darling picture book that elicits lots of laughs and warm fuzzies. From Heim’s website: “…a horde of puppies shows up in Strictville, a no-nonsense, no-fun town that has never seen puppies before.” The result is hilarious and heartwarming. Heim was the featured speaker at ROR-KC’s “For the Love of Books” Breakfast last year. Learn more about him in this blog post.


    Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
    Written by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Gordon C. James
    Best for: ages 3-8
    Denene Millner Books/Agate


    This gorgeous picture book is a Caldecott Honor Book, a Newberry Honor Book, a Coretta Scott King Author Book – and the list goes on. It describes a young African-American boy’s visit to the barbershop, and the feeling he gets from the experience. From Barnes, via his website: “It’s a poem about self affirmation and how the world may not see your brilliance, or your beauty, but you do, and everyone around you that loves you can definitely see it, recognize it.”  Check out this article and radio interview with Derrick Barnes from KCUR.


    this is kc cropped

    This is Kansas City
    Written by Angela Kmeck, Illustrated by John Hare
    Best for: ages 1-4
    Possum Trot Productions


    This board book has beautiful hand-painted illustrations and can’t help but make you feel proud to live in the Kansas City area. It’s a great way to introduce little ones to all that KC has to offer. Some children at ROR-KC partner medical clinics will be receiving this book, too, thanks to a generous donation from Angela Kmeck and John Hare!


    Ice Cream Soup
    Written by Ann Ingalls, Illustrated by Richard Watson
    Best for: ages 5-6
    Penguin Young Readers, Level 1


    This sweet rhyming book is perfect for beginning readers who will laugh at the delicious mistake that ice cream soup turns out to be.








    homemade love

    Homemade Love 

    Written by Bell Hooks, Illustrated by Shane Evans

    Best for: ages 2-5
    Hyperion Books


    This bright board book (available previously as a picture book) is full of primary colors and carries with it a loving message. From ShaneEvans.com: “This is a tribute to the joy of unconditional, parental love.” Check out this episode of KCPT’s “The Local Show” for an interview with Shane Evans.



  • 2018: What a Year!

    It’s been a fantastic year for Reach Out and Read Kansas City, and it’s all thanks to you: our volunteers, donors, clinics and families. Thank you!

    What a year graphic 2018 in review

    We are thrilled to report that ROR-KC was able to provide 82,000 new, developmentally-appropriate books to 29,326 children at well child visits during fiscal year 2017-2018. Children from birth through age five at 50 partner medical clinics in the Kansas City area receive our books, and families get a prescription to read from their provider. Thanks to our program, there were 76,247 opportunities for medical providers to educate parents about the importance of sharing books with their children last year. This, along with books to take home, is what can make the difference in children entering school prepared.  Data from National Reach Out and Read show that children who go through the ROR program enter school three-to-six months developmentally ahead of those who do not.


    At ROR-KC, it is truly a team effort. Medical providers and clinic site coordinators along with ROR-KC’s small staff work with a huge group of volunteers to promote early childhood literacy in our community. During fiscal year 2017-2018, volunteers spent 7,199 hours working as readers in clinics, helping in our office, organizing and planning fundraisers and events and more. Volunteer readers (those who read to pediatric patients in clinic waiting rooms) accounted for 2,010 of those hours. We had 84 volunteer readers last year – and that number is always growing.  Click here to learn more about volunteering with ROR-KC.


    Waiting rooms are important places to encourage literacy as well. We collected 39,968 gently used and new books last year, and 22,318 of those went to our clinic waiting rooms. Children can read them in the office and choose one to take home at each visit. Our annual Hooked on Books drive, which included 13 schools in 2018, collected 17,650 of those books. Donations and drives held by individuals and businesses made up the rest.


    Our events were very successful this year, thanks to dedicated committees of volunteers, who worked tirelessly to secure donations and plan fantastic, fun gatherings. Our “For the Love of Books” Breakfast (our 21st annual breakfast) raised $89,800, Our 7th annual networking happy hour, “Books On Tap,” raised $7,249 and our 2nd annual “Race to Read 5K” raised $4,822.


    Here’s to a literacy-rich, successful 2019 for all of us!


    Click here to give the gift of literacy now.


  • Survey Results Show Reach Out and Read KC Works

    New local survey results show that Reach Out and Read Kansas City is reaching families and children and influencing reading habits.  Of the more than 1,100  parents who filled out our annual parent questionnaire, 87% reported reading to their children at least once a week, and two-thirds (67 %) said they read with their children three or more times each week! This is slightly higher than last year’s results, when 66 % reported that they read with their children three or more times a week.


    parent survey graphic


    ROR-KC surveys parents through our 50 medical clinic partners each fall. For 2018, 99% of families reported getting a book at their well child visit, and 95% reported getting literacy advice during that visit as well. These are the touchstones of our program, which encourages early reading, talking and playing with children to foster healthy development and help close the achievement gap as children enter kindergarten.


    The brief survey (see below) includes five questions that are aimed at helping us to ensure that the program is being delivered as it is designed to be, and to assist us – and our medical partners – in improving it. It is in both English and Spanish.


    National Reach Out and Read data show that children who have gone through the ROR model are three to six months ahead developmentally of those children who have not had the advantage of the program.




    parent survey snip

  • #GivingTuesday Thanks

    Heart and Boy

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


    You gave generously to our #GivingTuesday campaign, raising a total of $4,767 in the month of November to support early childhood literacy, including $2,790 on #GivingTuesday alone.


    No other ROR-KC #GivingTuesday effort has even come close to that.  You are amazing!


    We are humbled and grateful, and thrilled about the books your donations will allow us to purchase for children and families to receive during well child visits at our 50 partner clinics.  We are proud to continue delivering the only medically-based literacy program in the area.


    We also have 31 Founding Members of the brand new ROR-KC Librarian’s Club, a dedicated group of literacy supporters who donate $100 or more annually. Members receive perks throughout the year, such as invitations to exclusive events, extra raffle tickets and an entry into a quarterly prize drawing.


    You can join as a 2019 member by clicking here.


    #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving after the Thanksgiving holiday and the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Learn more about the worldwide effort here.

  • Janice’s November Bookshelf Recommendation

    10 for dinner resized for blog



    Each month, we post a book recommendation from our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs. She’s spent 17 years curating the collection of developmentally-appropriate books that Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides to 50 medical clinics to hand out at well child visits. She knows books!


    November Bookshelf Recommendation

    10 for dinner
    Written by Jo Ellen Bogart
    Illustrated by Carlos Friere
    Published by Scholastic
    Age Range: 3-5-years old


    “This fun, creative book comes in hardback and paperback versions, and is great for practicing early math skills. More than that though, it is an engaging story that children will enjoy time and time again, as they hear about Margo’s birthday party. Along the way they will become endeared to Margo’s friend who is “creative” (i.e. different), and the surprise ending will remind everyone that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.’ There are lots of good learning opportunities in this story that will hold the attention of preschoolers and young elementary-aged children alike.”
    – Janice Dobbs


    Janice Dobbs has been the Book Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for over 17 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of over 82,000 books to our 50 partner clinics.

  • The Librarian’s Club: Become a Founding Member in November!

    Reach Out and Read is launching a new club of supporters who donate $100 or more annually to support ROR-KC and early childhood literacy in our community, and we’re offering a special incentive to those of you who join right away.


    Donate Now!


    When you join the club by November 27th (#GivingTuesday), you’ll be entered into a raffle for the following items:


    Librarian's Club Raffle

    • Samsung Galaxy Tablet
    • Card Making Party for 4-6 people at Paper Source
    • Necklace and Earrings from Final Touch Jewelry


    By joining our Librarian’s Club you become part of a unique support system that honors our mission. You will be helping to provide a foundation for success for Kansas City’s children through providing quality books at pediatric visits and encouraging families to read aloud together.


    Donate Now!


    If you join the Librarian’s Club anytime in November 2018 (it’s automatic with any donation of $100 or more), you’ll become a Founding Member of the club.  This is a one-time opportunity to belong to this small group of dedicated supporters.  Starting December 1st, you can still join the club, but you’ll no longer become a Founding Member.


    All Librarian’s Club members will receive:

    1.Special recognition on our website

    2. A membership card

    3. Occasional extras, like:

    -bonus raffle tickets at events

    -invitations to exclusive events

    -an entry into our special Librarian’s Club-only quarterly prize drawings

    4. Most importantly, the knowledge that you’re doing more to support early childhood literacy in the Kansas City area.



    You choose the level of support that is meaningful to you:

    Bookworms – $300

    Wordsmiths – $200

    Novelists – $100


    Donate Now!


    We have other #GivingTuesday opportunities, too. Check them out here!

    Donations may be made at one time or in $10 or more monthly payments

    We will be recognizing and thanking our Librarian’s Club members on our website. If you’d prefer not to be publicly thanked, please let Marianne Sharp know: msharp5@kumc.edu

  • Reach Out and Meet: Board Chair Cathy McCaddon

    Cathy Photo 2

    Reach Out and Read Kansas City Advisory Board Chair Cathy McCaddon with

    her grandson, Joe.


    At 2 p.m. most Wednesdays, you’ll find Reach Out and Read Board Chair Cathy McCaddon at Vibrant Health in Kansas City, Kansas, straightening up books and asking children whether she can read a story to them. “I love it,” she says. “I sit in the waiting room with a big cart of books that Reach Out and Read has provided…and I’ll say ‘you want to come over? We’re reading a book.’ And often their older brother or sister will come as well.”  Most of Vibrant’s patients speak Spanish, and Cathy even took a few Spanish classes so that she could communicate with them more effectively. “It really helped, even just to know a few of the words,” she says.


    In a way, Cathy’s volunteer work with ROR-KC is the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. She majored in elementary education at Southern Methodist University, but never became a teacher. Instead, she turned her talents to the world of banking and real estate finance, and had a long and successful career.  A Prairie Village native, Cathy retired from KeyBank a few years ago, and learned about ROR-KC through her involvement in the local Pi Beta Phi alumnae club. “It’s a perfect fit!  I love being around the children. That’s the teaching side of me that I always missed.”


    Cathy joined the Advisory Board nearly three years ago and became Chair in July. She’s already on a mission to build stronger relationships with large companies that have a significant local presence. “I know from being in the corporate sector that that’s really how you tend to get funding…a corporate foundation is much more likely to be willing to put some money forth if they have an employee who advocates for the nonprofit, and that’s where I think we need to look for more financial support.”


    She’s also actively engaged in bringing in new board members with a wide range of talents. Last month, she and Executive Director Jenny Horsley interviewed six potential new board members. “I’m trying to get…people with a more diverse skill set: people from larger corporations, people from smaller corporations, people with fundraising expertise, people who have a background in literacy, early childhood development – all of those things will help strengthen the board.”


    Cathy is also a mom (two grown-up daughters) and a grandmother (two grandsons, one three months old, the other one year old). She and her husband, Joe, travel as often as they can to see their children and grandchildren in Chicago, and Cathy says she is realizing just how important the ROR-KC message of reading aloud daily to your children is. “I’m seeing it first-hand with my own grandchildren, and it makes so much sense to me.” She says it’s reinforcement like this that brings home why she remains active with ROR-KC. “It is truly the mission of that early childhood development; that first 1000 days, that I feel no other literacy group targets as well as Reach Out and Read.”

    Reach Out and Read is lucky to have Cathy as its Board Chair. Thanks for spending your time and energy promoting early childhood literacy in our community, Cathy!

    Want to hear more from Cathy? You’re in luck! Here’s a transcript of our interview:


    How did you get involved with Reach Out and Read Kansas City?

    “When I looked at retirement coming up, I knew volunteering would be more in my future than it had been in my past and I thought, “this is a perfect fit for me and what I’m interested in and I really believe in the mission of this organization. I actually got connected with it through the Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club. At that point, Reach Out and Read was looking for new board members and said to the Pi Phi group, ‘you’ve had a contribution to this organization, do you have anyone who’d be interested in serving,’ and I just shot my hand up and said definitely.”


    What are some of your goals as Chair of Reach Out and Read?

    “I feel that we need to establish more of a presence with corporations that have a large local presence. I feel even KeyBank where I worked…we have probably 400 people here. We’re not a local bank but we have a presence and I feel that there are a lot of corporations like that. I know from being in the corporate sector that a corporate foundation is much more likely to be willing to put some money forth if they have an employee who advocates for the nonprofit, and that’s where I think we need to look for more financial support.”


    You’re interviewing a lot of potential new board members now. How’s that going?

    “Yes, 6 recently. I still struggle with the diversity part of it. That’s just hard, because, you know, it’s how this always works is, it’s word-of-mouth and I know somebody who knows somebody, and so you tend to be kind of staying in the same circles. Certainly, we are trying to get people with a diverse skill set. People from larger corporations, people from smaller corporations, people with fundraising expertise, people that have a background in literacy, early childhood development -all of those things will help strengthen the board.”


    What is it about Reach Out and Read that drew you in – and makes you want to stay involved?

    “It is truly the mission of that early childhood development; that first 1000 days, that I feel no other literacy group really targets as well as Reach Out and Read. I mean, at a first well child visit you get a book, and now, for me personally, I’m seeing it first-hand with my own grandchildren and it makes so much sense to me as somebody who was involved with teaching and thought that was important.”


    You also volunteer as a reader at one of our clinics (Vibrant Health in KCK). What has that experience been like for you?

    “I love it. I think it really made me understand what the program’s all about – once you see the children. I just sit in a waiting room with a big cart of books that Reach Out and Read has provided for that clinic, and I straighten up those books every time I go; they’re all messed up so I know kids have been going through them. I’ll say (to a child) you want to come over? We’re reading a book, and often times their older brother or sister will come as well, and I really like seeing that family dynamic of the older siblings- they help the young. At Vibrant Health, oftentimes the parents don’t speak English but the older siblings do, so that’s really your “in” with the parents or the younger siblings – you’ll say, do you want to help us read this book? And they’ll say OK, or they’ll explain that their younger sibling or parent doesn’t speak much English. The family ties are so strong, and it is really great to see, and almost every parent is very happy that I’m reading to their child and they might act uninterested at first – but then slowly they’re listening and watching and I see them smile. I think the point of having readers (at the clinic) is to mirror a behavior that you want those parents to follow in reading to their children.”


    Is it fulfilling?

    “Yes. I love being around the children. That’s the teaching side of me that I always missed. That’s great, but it also really helps me to understand a little more about the clinic environment about what those workers are going through there. It’s hard and it’s not just the language barrier. I also see people come in there who are not Spanish-speaking and I’m like, oh, I’m in trouble here. After I started volunteering, I signed up last year for a Spanish class, and took a few classes. It really helped, even just to know a few of the words, and all of this is beneficial to me, as well. You know, you hear about using the other side of your brain, keeping your brain active, and I think it’s a great outlet for retired people, so I think that would be another group that we should target in our volunteer program.”


    What’s your favorite children’s book?

    “Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. That is the book my daughters liked the best and I loved watching them really go to sleep at the end of it.”


    Do you have a favorite reading-based memory?

    “I remember in grade school walking to the library in the summer and checking out books and I just always loved having the book and turning the pages. I’m not an extremely avid reader, but I am becoming more so in retirement but I still love the book, not the kindle. Just turning the page and holding the book, and thinking, there’s just so much excitement – there’s something interesting in that book that’s going to make your imagination go – a book is exciting.”