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 “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.