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.


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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!


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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!


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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.













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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.”








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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:

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


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”

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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!

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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?”


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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

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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”

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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!

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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!

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Hooked on Books: Our Biggest Book Drive!

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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!


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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.


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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.








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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.


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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.




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#GivingTuesday Thanks

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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

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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:

Reach Out and Meet: Board Chair Cathy McCaddon

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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.”


There’s the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday…and then there’s feel-good #GivingTuesday, a day to give back to your community.


As people around the nation – and the world – take part in this effort, we hope you’ll join in by donating to Reach Out and Read Kansas City.


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Our theme this year is “Who are you thankful for?”


We are thankful for you: our volunteers, donors, medical clinic staff and providers, board and event committee members, and families who participate in the program each year.


We’re planning some special incentives for donating in November and on #GivingTuesday:


Show your Gratitude: If you donate to ROR-KC in November, you’ll have the opportunity to include the name and e-mail address of someone special, and we’ll send them a note, letting them know you made a gift in their honor because you’re thankful for them.


The Librarian’s Club: Become a Founding Member, be Entered in a Special Drawing! If you donate $100 or more to ROR-KC between November 1st and November 27th, you become a founding member of our new Librarian’s Club, a group that will receive special recognition, a membership card, and extras, like bonus raffle tickets at events and other goodies. You’ll also be entered to win a fantastic prize basket, which includes:


-Samsung Galaxy Tablet
-Card-making party for 4-6 people at Paper Source
-Necklace and Earrings from Final Touch Jewelry

Click here to find out more about the Librarian’s Club


Matching Money! Kathy Palermo and The General Federation of Women’s Clubs have generously offered to match the first $100 in donations that ROR-KC receives on #GivingTuesday. If you give that day, your gift is worth even more! Thank you to the GFWC!


Raffle: All November donors will be entered into a raffle to win KU basketball gear, including hats, shirts, belts and more, as well as a Chick-Fil-A $10 gift card.

We hope you’ll consider supporting ROR-KC, the only medically-based early childhood literacy program in the area, this #GivingTuesday. Your $70 donation covers books and advice for one child throughout all 14 well child visits from birth to age five.

Click here to donate.

Holiday Shopping at STUFF for a Good Cause November 13

STUFF Party Banner FINAL 2018

Charity Party!
Join Reach Out & Read Kansas City for a charity party at “a store named STUFF on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 from 5:30-7:00 p.m.

STUFF will donate 15% of all sales during that time to ROR-KC. Thank you STUFF!


Explore the store’s unique items, have a drink and a snack and do some holiday shopping while supporting early childhood literacy! We’ll have staff members on hand and would love to see you and say hello.


STUFF is located at 316 W. 63rd Street, KCMO 64113


It’s free to attend, but be sure to register so you’ll get a reminder email. You can do that by clicking here.

See you there!

Janice’s October Bookshelf Recommendation

clifford book cutout

New series alert! 

Each month, we’ll be posting 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!


October Bookshelf Recommendation:

Clifford’s Opposites (one of eight books in a series)
By Norman Bridwell
Published by Scholastic
Age range: 6 months – 3 years


“Clifford is a favorite character for the young and young at heart! This little board book is the perfect size for toddlers to carry around, and the scalloped edges of the book make turning pages an easy task, even for babies. This series of books helps to reinforce basic concepts that little ones are learning—animal sounds, bedtime and bath-time routines and opposites. The simple text and colorful illustrations capture the attention of children and make it a fun and easy book to share with little ones—and often preschoolers enjoy “reading” these books to themselves! This series also comes in a bilingual format.”
– 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.

Study Finds Talking With Young Children has Impact on IQ a Decade Later

reading aloud

Parents and caregivers, here’s another reason to keep chatting with your children while reading to them. A study published recently in the Journal Pediatrics finds that talking with your child often, or “conversational turns,” may have a positive impact on the child’s language development and IQ as much as ten years later!

Reach Out and Read’s National Medical Director, Perri Klass, co-authored a commentary that accompanied the study (she was not involved in the study itself), and calls the findings “especially remarkable, given the heterogeneity of children’s experiences as they grow up.” In the commentary, Klass and her co-author, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, note that the “study findings support ‘primary prevention’ of disparities in development and school readiness, beginning early in life before their onset.” Klass and Mendelsohn cite Reach Out and Read as the “most established scaled program” in this area.

This study is really heartening, and it supports our mission of increasing kindergarten readiness in at-risk communities by giving families the tools and training they need to succeed.

Click here to read the full article from the Journal Pediatrics.

Click here to read the commentary co-authored by Reach Out and Read’s National Medical Director Perri Klass.

Click here to read an article from ABC News about the study.

Books On Tap a Major Success!

Guests enjoying Books On Tap 2018 at the River Market Event Place Photo courtesy Jessica Janasz
Guests enjoying Books On Tap 2018 
Photo courtesy Jessica Janasz

Thanks to all who attended our 7th annual Books On Tap happy hour networking event on September 13th at the River Market Event Place! You helped us raise $12,065(!) to support our mission of incorporating books into pediatric care and giving families the tools they need to improve kindergarten readiness.


Local businesses, restaurants and breweries really came through for ROR-KC, making the event unforgettable. From Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang shrimp to Chipotle’s burritos, Schlotzsky’s sandwiches, Blue Sake’s Sushi and Donutology’s treats to beer from Boulevard, Casual Animal and the Big Rip, guests had a real feast. Hot 103 Jamz’s Lady T did a great job as emcee, and Airstream Lounge KC’s photo booth was a hit!


We had a silent auction for the first time this year, along with a raffle, and the unique items – including a chance to design a ROR-KC “cause” blend at the Roasterie – made this a one-of-a-kind event.


Congratulations and thank you to our generous guests, sponsors and donors, as well as the hard-working Books On Tap committee for a fun, successful event!


See you next year!


Click here to see the full photo gallery, courtesy of Jessica Janasz Photography.
JJP_0174 JJP_0070 JJP_0075 JJP_0037 JJP_0106 JJP_0118

ROR-KC Welcomes New Communications Coordinator

Marianne with her husband Richard, and their son, Eddie
Marianne with her husband Richard, and their son, Eddie

Reach Out and Read Kansas City is happy to welcome our new Communications Coordinator, Marianne Sharp. Marianne has spent 20 years in journalism, mostly at NPR stations. She’s been a reporter, managing editor and bureau chief, and covered state government for many years in California. She’s also worked as a college journalism instructor and preschool aide, and spends a lot of time volunteering in her 6-year-old son’s elementary school classroom and library. She’s very passionate about early childhood literacy and is thrilled to be working with ROR-KC. She’ll be working part-time, handling traditional and social media and helping with volunteers and events. If you have an idea for a newsletter or social media post, please let her know at She also reminds everyone who’s a fan of ROR-KC to follow up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


We wish the very best of luck to Christina Larkins, whose year-long Americorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) term with ROR-KC ended in late August. She came to us with a passion for early literacy and a dream to one day work as a children’s librarian. Over the past year, she’s worked tirelessly as the voice of ROR-KC and as a youth associate at the Plaza Library. She’s moving on to a new children’s library role. Thanks, Christina, for your hard work, and we wish you the best!

Unique Auction and Raffle Items: Books On Tap Won’t Disappoint!

Books On Tap Icon Final2Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s annual networking happy hour, Books On Tap, is Thursday, September 13, from 5-8 p.m. at the River Market Event Place. We’ll gather to support literacy and enjoy appetizers and food from local restaurants and breweries and a unique raffle and silent auction. Check out some of the outstanding items below, and then Get your tickets here!



Silent Auction Items:



Roasterie Coffee Experience: You and 6 friends will work closely with a Brew Master to taste, blend, and create a custom Reach Out and Read Kansas City Blend of Roasterie Coffee to be sold nationwide. $500 value



Antiga Sage Lettering + Watercolor Workshop: Workshop for 8-10, receive your own hand lettering brush pen, get tips, tricks, and practice while creating your own work of art. $500 value




Marlee Hayes Artwork: One of a kind Marlee Hayes Artwork. $300 value







kc zoo basket resized

Family Fun Basket: 4 passes to KC Renaissance Festival, 4 passes to KC Zoo, 4 passes to Science City, 4 passes to Union Station Planetarium, KC Mavericks swag, $30 Johnny’s Gift Card, 5 Andy’s concrete coupons, 4 Sealife Aquarium passes. $400 value





barley bus basket resized

Beer Lovers Bundle:  2 passes to Barley Brew Tour of your choice, iTap Beer school for 10, Beer Kitchen $25 gift card, assorted beers. $350 value







Portraits by Christopher Family Portrait: A beautiful 11×14 family portrait with a Masterpiece finish that is digitally painted. Brushstrokes are added to the canvas after printing, producing a perfectly proportioned painting that will last 200 years. $1500 value






Date Night Out: 2 tickets to Alamo Draft House + 2 food coupons, private lane for 1.5 hours at Blade and Timber, $20 Foo’s gift card, Cooper’s Hawk wine tasting. $240 value



Samsung Sound Bar: Samsung Soundbar Series 9 HW-K950. $2000 value



BMC MattressVoucher for a new mattress (up to $750) for a great night’s sleep! $750 value



Sporting KC Tickets + Parking Pass: Four tickets to the LA Galaxy game and a premium parking pass! You will not want to miss this! $650 value





Bonefish Grill Excursion Experience: Four-course meal for 8. Includes a signature cocktail, wine with meal, assorted appetizers, salads, assorted entrees to taste, assorted desserts. $750 value


Raffle Items:


BBQ basket resized


I Love KC Basket: Raygun swag, Cityscape prints, 4 Kauffman Center tour passes, Tasty Thai Primal Cry Sauce, $25 Joe’s KC gift card. $135 value


KC Swag Basket: $56 HyperKC T-shirt gift card, $50 Charlie Hustle gift card, KC Canvas Bag, $25 Beer Kitchen gift card. $141 value


Reach Out and Woof Basket: 1 Year BarK membership and swag, treats unleashed gift card + treats, puppy pads, beer paws treats, pedigree chopped ground dinner, pet head gallon shampoo, “must love dogs” print. $333 value


Date Night In Basket: Samsung TV, Popcorn, 2 bottles of wine, Nothing Bundt Cake. $300 value



jewelry, steamer basket resizedMe, Myself, and Eye Basket: Final Touch Jewelry bracelet, Hamilton Beach Clothing Steamer, Kendra Scott Necklace, Becca 1.35 oz. makeup primer, Treat YoSelf print, Warby Parker gift card. $230 value






Look Good, Feel Good Basket: 1-Three month Genesis Health Club, 60-minute massage from Element Wellness, $50 Bijin salon gift card. $280 value




Get Fit Basket: 1 month Orange Theory, 1 month MOJO  Cycling, Muscle Brownies, Chiefs Jersey – Richardson. $220 value





hammerpress basket resized2Hammerpress Goodies: Two large prints, two smaller prints, two stacks of cards, stack of postcards. $150 value.







health clubs resized

Disabled But Not Really Basket: Disabled But Not T-shirts + swag, 1-Three month Genesis Health Club, $25 Jack Stack gift card. $115 value








The Royal Package: Four voucher tickets to 2019 Royals game, Drew Butera jersey, Cityscape print, $25 Sailor Jack’s gift card.








KU Basketball Tickets: 2 KU Pre-Season Tickets, $25 Jack Stack Gift Card. Value $225





Sully’s Basket: Koozies, gift cards, liquor, Comedy Club tickets


Librarians Club Member Raffle ONLY: Samsung Galaxy Tablet, Paper Source Card-making Party for 4-6, Final Touch Necklace


Heads/Tails Raffle:— $1 entry (glowstick) Samsung Galaxy Tablet. $100 value


Tickets to Books on Tap are $30 in advance, or $35 on September 13th, and include appetizers, three drink coupons, one raffle ticket and entry into the silent auction. Additional raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20.

You must be 21 (and bring your ID) to attend. Get tickets here!

Kansas City Stanford Alumni Host ROR-KC Book Drive

2018 JULY Newsletter ImagesdsdasIs your alumni group, sorority, or fraternity looking for a way to make a positive impact within your community?


Consider creating a day of service and hosting a book drive in support of Reach Out and Read Kansas City.


DeAngela Burns-Wallace, a Stanford Alumni and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies for The University of Kansas was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to share her book drive story.


Each year Stanford encourages their alumni to participate in a national day of service, that way the organization has a positive community influence wherever their alumni go. She searched for a nonprofit that they could provide the most impact.


“Because we have a small alumni base in KC area, we looked for an activity that we could organize with a small number of people but have a significant impact.  Reach Out and Read was an ideal partner.”


DeAngela believes in the importance of early reading, for her, the good Reach Out and Read Kansas City does is essential to her community.


“Reading allows kids to experience so many things, early reading opens up their imagination and possibilities. Supporting early childhood education and especially reading at all ages is key and critical in our society. Reach Out and Read Kansas City helps real families on a daily basis, that was important for us as we looked for a local partner.”


Book drives can take many forms, birthdays, school competitions, office events, cocktail parties, no matter the form though, the key to success it is planning and promotion. 


“About four weeks prior we began to email alumni in the region asking them to collect age-appropriate books – their own, friends, family, etc.  We used the national day of service called “Beyond the Farm” as the book drop off date. Myself and three other alums set up tables, boxes, and treats to welcome the drop-offs at my home. It was a simple set up but one that allowed alumni to drop off books and go.  We boxed the books on site and delivered over 250 books to Reach Out and Read from the KC area Stanford alumni and our friends. “


Small book drives like this make a big difference in the Kansas City community. Thank you DeAnglea and the KC area Stanford Alumni for your continued support! 


If you are interested in learning more, head over to our How to Host a Book Drive page for more information.

For The Love of Books Breakfast: Huge Success



Thank you to everyone who attended Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s first-ever For the Love of Books Breakfast! With your help we raised over $84,000. Thank you to Dhomonique Ricks for keeping the morning on track. Special thank you to our Honorary Co-Hosts Kathleen and Bill Johansen, for being such supportive voices for ROR-KC’s read aloud mission. And a big thank you to the incredible Alastair Heim for giving us a peek into the mind and inspiration of a picture book author.

Thanks again to all our sponsors who supported the event.

Please view photos from the event, courtesy of Taylor Kelley, on the ROR-KC Facebook page. 

Share a Book Today: Clinic Spotlight: Sallie Page-Goertz MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC at KUMC Pediatrics

SALLIE_CLINIC_Sallie Page-Goertz is an Advanced Registered Nurse at KUMC Pediatrics as well as Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Kansas City.


When ROR-KC was first formed in 1997, Sallie immediately embraced the program as a part of her pediatric care.

20 years later Sallie still treasures the moments she shares books and early literacy advice with her patients and families. She is an avid supporter of a child’s physical and cognitive well-being, and she understands the importance early reading can have on a child’s life.


What is your favorite Reach Out and Read Memory?


A young patient named Michelle reminded me that some children only have books of their own because of ROR-KC. Books are expensive and they are not always within a family’s budget. For Michelle, her family took ROR-KC’s reading advice to heart. They read to her often and her father even built a special bookshelf for her ROR-KC books. As she got older and she started to read on her own, those were the books she turned to first.  It’s families like these where I know we are making a positive impact.

Read more about Michelle’s story here.


How has your understanding of ROR-KC grown over time?

The biggest change is that we have much more information now about how babies and young children’s brains develop, and how economic disparities can have a serious impact on children’s language development as well. This new neurological data enforces how important ROR-KC’s read aloud mission is for young children.


What are some of your favorite books to share with patients and why?


Let’s Read is the book we share with new parents. I love opening it in front of babies and showing parents how their new child’s eyes light up and focus on the book. It’s a great way to open a conversation about reading early and often to their little ones.


For slightly older children, I enjoy books that rhyme, like Dr. Suess. At that age children are starting to talk themselves and they love listening to how words sound. It’s fun because rhyming books feel like a game to them.


ROR-KC also shares bilingual books as well. This is especially helpful when families might have a grandparent that would love to read with the child even though they aren’t comfortable reading or speaking English.


What’s your favorite piece of family reading advice (or encouragement) to share?


Changing how you encourage family members can be key to taking the pressure off reading aloud. Sharing a book with your baby sounds less daunting than reading a book with them. Also encouraging them to understand that the story doesn’t have to dictate the time you spend together. Feel free to open a book and make up a story, skip pages, ask questions. What color is this? How many animals are there? What do you think is going to happen next?


Most importantly, enjoy that time you are snuggled up together. Those unique conversations are helping your baby’s brain grow.


What’s your favorite personal reading memory as a child or with your own children?


I have always been an avid reader. When I was little, I was the child that would get caught reading with the light on in the middle of the night. Whether it’s my grandchildren or my patients I love watching a child’s eyes light up when I bring in a book because it means that someone is reading to them.


How are volunteer readers important to ROR-KC?


We need people to set an example. A book doesn’t have to be a way to read to children, but rather a way to read with them.  Showing parents and family members that story time is more of a way to have a conversation with your child. Watching a great volunteer reader can help take a load off for some parents who might find story time daunting.
Thank You, Sallie!

Clinic Spotlight: Chelsea Phelps MSN, FNP-C, Pediatrics at Swope Health Central


SWOPE_CENTRAL_IMAGE3_WEBChelsea Phelps is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and ROR-KC Medical Director for Swope Health Central. The clinic is part of a conglomerate of Swope Health Services satellite sites that offer a variety of services including, primary care, dentistry, optometry, radiology, pharmacy, WIC and an on-site laboratory. Chelsea and her colleagues at Swope Health Central utilized a new book during 2,000 well child visits last year and had the opportunity to educate hundreds of families about the importance of reading from the start.


Chelsea shared a bit about herself and how she makes a difference to improve literacy in Kansas City every day. She has been a passionate supporter of Reach Out and Read Kansas City from the moment she started at Swope in 2015, and she understands the impact early reading can have on a child’s life.




What is your favorite part of ROR-KC?

My favorite part about Reach Out and Read is every time I give a book to a family and the sheer excitement I see on their faces. If I forget to bring in the book at the beginning of the appointment many of my families will ask me if they are getting a book that day.


What are some of your favorite books to use with your patients and why?

I love books with touch and feel details, the indestructible books, or books with flaps. My infants love to feel the different textures of the books, chewing on them or looking for hidden characters under the flaps. For my older kids, they love receiving books with recognizable characters on them or things they are interested in (planes, trains, dolls, etc)


What’s your favorite piece of family reading advice (or encouragement) to share? 

Reading to your children at LEAST once per day is so beneficial to their development. Many parents feel that for a child to learn, you need to sit them down and teach them as though they are in a school setting. Many parents don’t know that just by reading a story and talking about the characters in the book it is just as beneficial of a learning experience.


What’s your fondest personal reading memory as a child or reading to your own children?

Since both my boys were born I have a nightly routine of bath, books then bed. Some nights are very hectic and reading time sometimes will get missed. My oldest son (almost 4 years old) will come in my room with a book so that we can have that moment. I can never say no! We end up reading 3 or 4 sometimes 5 books at a time.


Why is reading important to you?

My life is always go, go, go. Reading puts the brakes on a busy day. At least for a little while.  It is a time that you and whomever can have a moment to connect and remove technology that often overwhelms families these days. Now that I am older, reading is also a way to get my mind off of the day-to-day stresses.


Is there anything else you would like to share?

Reading is so vital to children as well as adults. Pick a time of day even if for only 5 minutes to sit and read something together. It could be a new book or an old one, a newspaper or a magazine. The content is important, but not as much as the time spent together. The time spent together is so important- especially today when life gets so busy.

Meet Reach Out and Read’s Breakfast Keynote Speaker! Alastair Heim

AH_AUTHOR_IMAGE_WEBSIZEFor the Love of Books Breakfast is February 15th at the Uptown Theater. At Reach Out and Read Kansas City, preparations are in full swing.


We are so excited to introduce Keynote Speaker and local Kansas City children’s book author Alastair Heim. Besides writing a number of popular children’s books filled with humor and lots of fun, he is an avid supporter of early literacy. Alastair was kind enough to answer a few questions about everything from writing to reading to children’s books.


Please tell us a little bit about how and why you started writing books.

While I’ve always had a passion for creative writing, I officially started trying to write picture books shortly after my first child was born.  My wife and I received dozens upon dozens of children’s books as baby shower gifts and, after diving into each and every one of them, I was inspired to try and write my own stories.  More than anything, though, I thought it would be super cool if my kids could read a book that daddy wrote (it is!).


How and why did you become involved with Reach Out and Read KC?

I have known about Reach Out and Read for a number of years, but only recently became directly involved with them through a friend of mine (she was gracious enough to introduce me to the wonderful KC folks).  I am thrilled to be working with such an incredible organization that does so much to advocate for children and the positive, life-changing influences that reading can have on their lives.  The read aloud experience shapes every picture book I write and I’m incredibly honored to support their mission.


What were some of your favorite children’s books growing up?

My absolute favorite book to read, when I was very young, was Barney Beagle Plays Baseball by Jean Bethell.  My brother and I also had a ton of Berenstain Bears books and, when I got a bit older, I started gravitating toward anything written by Shel Silverstein.


What are some of your (or your girls’) favorite children’s books that you read today?

I actually had my kids answer this question and here are a few of their current favorites:  THE BOOK OF MISTAKES (by Corinna Luyken), PIG AND PUG (Sue Lowell Gallion), BABYMOUSE DRAGONSLAYER (Jennifer Holm), A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC (Shel Silverstein), LITTLE BIRD’S BAD WORD (Jacob Grant), GHOST (Raina Telgemeier), REAL FRIENDS (Shannon Hale), MUSTACHE BABY (Bridget Heos), THAT NEIGHBOR KID (Daniel Miyares), LITTLE MISS, BIG SIS (Amy Krouse Rosenthal), BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER (Andria Rosenbaum), ENGINERDS (Jarrett Lerner) and, of course, NO TOOTING AT TEA (Me).


What’s your favorite childhood reading memory?

The most vivid memories I have about reading are being at my elementary school library and picking out books to take home.  I went to a fairly small school in rural Wisconsin, but the library was always full of books for me to pour over. In fact, that’s where I first discovered Shel Silverstein.  I recently had the opportunity to read my books to First Graders at that same library, which was an absolutely surreal dream come true.


Why is reading important to you?

This is, by far, the hardest question for me to answer…because there are SO many reasons.  For me, reading was literally my first introduction to creativity – as it is for most children.  Picture books are a gateway for a child’s imagination to flourish, whether it be the words or pictures that capture their hearts and minds.  Reading was also one of the first and most meaningful ways I connected with my own children.  To see their eyes light up and to hear them giggle when I read aloud to them has been a gift that has shaped who I am as a dad and as a writer.

Beyond my own experiences, though, is the fact that every writer was a reader first.  When today’s authors have written their last stories, a new generation of writers will emerge and fill these same shoes.  The world needs great storytellers and the more we can do to fan the flames of creativity – by reading to kids at a very early age – the better the stories of tomorrow are going to be.


What makes a great story time?

I am a firm believer that the parent should have just as much fun as the child does during story time.  In my opinion, it’s the overall experience between parent and child that creates the most lasting connections.  My favorite books to read with my kids have a few things in common – effortless-to-read rhyme, clever writing, unexpected humor and great endings.  When I write my books, I always try to keep mom and dad in mind.  Does the rhyming make for a good read aloud experience?  Is there humor that the parent will find funny, too? How can I end this story in a way people will be surprised and delighted by?  Ultimately, I want my books to be the ones children pick out at bedtime and their parents are delighted to read with them, over and over again.



Learn more about Alastair and his books on his website:

Through a Doctor’s Eyes: A Generation of Reach Out and Read Kansas City

BABY_AND_CHILD_IMAGE_WEB_SIZEMeet Krista Cox, a pediatrician that began her career at Baby and Child Associates Pediatric Practice in 1999 and has been there ever since. Dr. Cox was kind enough to take time out of her busy day to share a little bit about herself and Baby and Child’s new office. Dr. Cox has always been an advocate for early literacy and has continuously integrated the Reach Out and Read model into her practice. She has seen the positive impact books and family reading time can make on a young child’s life and future.


When Reach Out and Read Kansas City first began in 1997, Dr. Cox was completing her residency at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Right away she saw the benefit of incorporating books into pediatric care. In 1999 she began working at Baby and Child and carried Reach Out and Read’s mission with her. She knew through a myriad of studies that early literacy  initiatives are important and work. For her early literacy is a way to not only encourage reading but also positive family time.



When a child develops a love a reading from their parents, a world of possibilities can open up to them.


A love of reading is a tool they can use for the rest of their lives.


What’s your favorite piece of family reading advice (or encouragement) to share?

When the baby is an infant, I like to ask parents to read and talk to their babies every day. It will make them smarter I say, and that makes parents smile. For older children, 3 and up, I like to tell parents that the more they read to their children the better they will do in kindergarten.


What are some of your favorite books to use with your patients and why?

Anyone who steps into our office will know that we are big fans of Eric Carle here at Baby and Child. His artwork is in almost every room. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a great book to use during well-child visits because of its use of color and repetition.


What’s your fondest personal reading memory as a child or reading to your own children?

I was an avid reader growing up, and I wanted to pass that on to my kids. When my children were little, I read One Fish Two Fish by Dr. Seuss more times than I can count. It’s fun to share that same book with parents in our waiting room and say, “Hey, I read this book to my kids thousands of times. Your child might really enjoy this book too.”


What is your favorite Reach Out and Read memory at Baby and Child?

While I don’t have one specific memory, there are certain moments that I love. When I walk into an appointment with a 9-month old (a child that might only babble or say things like mama) and the child sees the book in my hand and says, “book!”  That is a good sign, it means that someone is reading to that child on a daily basis.


Baby and Child has quite a few ROR-KC volunteers. How do volunteer readers impact Baby and Child?

Even though parents know in their mind that reading is important, a volunteer reader can set an example of what goes into a good story time. The reader can be interactive, silly and use different voices. A reader can ask questions. Story time is a chance for the parent to have fun and interact with their child.


Is there anything else you would like to share? 

One of the most rewarding things about working with Reach Out and Read Kansas City has been looking back a noticing the change in how parents view the importance of reading.

When I first started a generation ago at Baby and Child, parents would ask me why they need to read to their child? Especially if their preschool or daycare has reading time built into the day. But now there are ROR-KC children that have grown up and have babies of their own. As parents, they are showing greater interest and excitement when I talk about reading to their young children. I know that because of Reach Out and Read Kansas City I have been a part of that change.



Baby and Child is just one of the many clinics that Reach Out and Read Kansas City serves. If you would like to learn more about the clinics we serve, head to our clinic partners page.


STUFF Holiday Shopping Party

1 - CopyA Store Named STUFF in Brookside, MO is staying open late for a holiday shopping party benefiting ROR-KC. You will find the perfect, unique gift for that hard-to-buy-for individual on your holiday list. The party is on December 5th from 5:30 -7:00 pm Guests are invited to shop for literacy while enjoying light snacks and fun with friends.

Sign up to attend here so you will receive a reminder!

Follow the event on Facebook for more info. 

What: STUFF Holiday Shopping Party

When: December 5th 

5:30 – 7:30pm

Where: A Store Named STUFF

316 W 63rd St.

Kansas City, MO 64113

Hold a Fall Book Drive

2017_10_WEB_FALL_BOOK_DRIVEIn partnership with Giving Tuesday, the national day of giving, Reach Out and Read Kansas City is hosting its annual Fall Book Drive. Celebrate the season by donating new and gently used books to Reach Out and Read Kansas City.


What: Fall Book Drive

When: November 1st- 28th

Book drop off is Monday – Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm.

Where: Reach Out and Read Kansas City

Support Services building, 2100 W. 36th Ave, Kansas City, KS 66160. 



Collecting books can be a fun way to bring friends, family, and coworkers together. From birthdays to office parties, a Reach Out and Read Kansas City book drive is a conversation starter and opportunity to make a difference in your KC community.



Susan Mertz, a content writer @ Merrigan & Co, recently hosted a cocktail party book drive with her daughter Allison. It was a big success. Not only did she have a wonderful group of people visiting her home but she also collected new and gently used books at the same time.


When she dropped off the monetary and book donation she filled us in on the details. If you are interested in hosting your own book drive, visit our How to Host a Book Drive post for more Information.


Susan, you mentioned that you heard about Reach Out and Read Kansas City from Monica Tiffany. What did she say that made you interested in the program?
“Monica mentioned her involvement on the board and it brought back memories of volunteering at my children’s school library. And, memories of taking my children to the public library for storytime. Time reading books with little ones is priceless.”


How did your daughter get involved?
“I’ve watched Allison’s friends grow up and always enjoy seeing them. We have a great mix of friends and it was a fun way to get all of us together. Plus, I just love spending time with my daughter!”


What inspired you both to host a book drive?
“Initially, I visited the website planning to donate books. Then, I saw the button promoting Host a Book Drive.


Why a cocktail party?
“An after work gathering was best for our schedule and we added fun beverages and snacks.”


How did this all come about?
“First, I floated the idea past a few friends and they were all excited. We picked a date that worked well for several people. Then, my daughter and I created a Facebook event and sent out the invites. We invited 30 people and had 20 join us. We were thrilled with the response!”


What did people say about Reach Out and Read Kansas City during the event?
“I had info signs posted on the donation box telling a little about the group. Many had questions and were genuinely excited to learn about the organization. Again and again, friends said they really enjoyed getting together, having fun, and helping out. It was also fun hearing about the books they donated – favorites of their children and favorite ones they grew up reading.”


How did you both feel when the event was finished?
“Wonderful. We collected 70 books plus a cash donation. It was fun and easy. And, best of all, we introduced an incredible organization to our friends. It looks like we will be doing this again next year! One friend is already saving books for the next book drive.”


Thank you so much, Susan and Allison!

How to Host a Book Drive

How to Host a Book Drive

2017_WEB_Host_a_Book_DriveHosting a book drive is the perfect way to make a difference in your community. A recent donor, Susan Mertz of Merrigan & Co hosted a cocktail party with her daughter. When asked how she felt when the party was over she responded, “Wonderful. — It was fun and easy. And, best of all, we introduced an incredible organization to our friends.”


The easiest way to host a book drive is to think about how you can incorporate book donations into the agenda. Spread the word, enjoy time with your friends, and reap the rewards. Feel free to take advantage of our free printable flyer, fact sheet, and coloring page when hosting your book drive.





Check out these tried and true book collection methods below:



Parties: Birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, Quinceaneras, Anniversaries

This is one of the easiest ways to do a book drive, simply encourage guests to bring a book donation or two in lieu of a present.


Events: Plays, Concerts, Debate Tournaments, Spelling Bees, Ballets

Any performance-based gathering is the perfect place to have guests bring a new or gently used book donation as the price of admission or for a discount.


Social Gatherings: Faith-Based Groups, Club Meetings, Cocktail Parties

Any time your favorite club gets together is a great opportunity to collect books with ease.
If you are looking for an excuse to hold a cocktail party, encourage people to join in by bringing a book. Reach Out and Read Kansas City makes for a great conversation starter.


Locations: Office, Club, Gymnasium, Coffee shop

ROR-KC has donation bins available upon request that can be used in high donation sites. You can even make it into a competition. Set goals for your office or club to build up camaraderie and spirit. Host a party to celebrate once your book collection time is over.


Host a Virtual Book Drive: 

Sometimes life prevents us from collecting books in person. In this case, you can also host a book drive online. Feel free to share.

Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive

B&N BOOK DRIVE SPLASH IMAGE - CopyFrom November 1st to December 31st, 2017, Barnes and Noble Leawood and Overland Park will be hosting their annual Holiday Book Drive benefitting Reach Out and Read Kansas City.


Make a difference by purchasing a book for a child this season. The book selections, located behind the Barnes & Noble checkout counters, were hand-picked by Janice, ROR-KC’s Book Coordinator, for children in our 50 Kansas City metro area clinics. These book donations will be used during well-child assessments by medical providers, then given to children to take home and enjoy. Be an advocate for literacy and give the gift our medical team is prescribing, time for families to interact and snuggle up with a good book this holiday season.








Barnes & Noble @ Town Center

4751 West 117th Street

Leawood, KS 66211

Google Map


Barnes & Noble @ Oak Park Mall

11323 W 95th St,

Overland Park, KS 66214

Google Map

RORKC Welcomes New VISTA Volunteer, Christina

We are thrilled to welcome our new Outreach Coordinator, Christina Larkins. Christina joins our team as a full-time volunteer through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.  Continue reading “RORKC Welcomes New VISTA Volunteer, Christina”

Help Restock Our Bookshelves

Re-Stock our Bookshelves22


School may be out for summer, but it’s the busiest time of year for our partner clinics! Because summertime is the perfect time for families to schedule well-child visits, books have been flying off our shelves! Last year, in August 2016, we distributed over 8,800 brand new books.  As a result, our supply of books is dwindling low. We need your help to continue providing over 80,000 books to children in KC each year.


donate button


Many families who visit Reach Out and Read Kansas City clinics are struggling to cover basic household necessities … they would love to buy books for their children, but they simply can’t afford them.  61% of low-income families have no children’s books in their homes.  Owning a book and reading with parents can ignite a lifelong love of learning. Through new books and literacy counseling for parents, you instill a love of learning and a desire to learn more. In fact, research confirms that parents who interact with our program are more likely to read to their young children, read more often, and have more children’s books in their homes.


Help us ensure every child recieves a book at their well-child visits.


Make your gift go further by joining our monthly donating club, the Brain Builders.


Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary: An Interview with Erika

One of the best parts of working in the RORKC office is hearing feedback and success stories from all of our partner clinics.  A few years ago, Reach Out and Read Kansas City board member and pediatrician at Children’s Mercy West, Dr. Lisa Riojas shared this experience she had during a well-child visit:


“One of my most special Reach Out and Read memories is of a 6-month-old who came in with his family.  He was sitting on his mother’s lap. They were Spanish speaking so we had an interpreter but that’s the great thing about books, you can see what kids are thinking/feeling when they are looking at books.  So, I hand him the book.  Usually, babies at that age start to chew on the book while holding it upside down and backward, but this little guy took it from me with both hands, held it in the correct position, and opened it all by himself. He then started to flip the pages and you could see eyes scanning the pages as if he’s reading this little book.


The mom then looked at me and at him, when she starts to show him the book, he just lights up and gets all excited, and you can tell that he is super happy.  It was very obvious that he had been read to over and over again by his family”


rene newsletterRene is now a healthy 2-year- old that still loves to read.  Recently, we met with his mother, Erika, to talk about why she loves reading with Rene and her  6-year-old daughter, Alondra.


How often do you read aloud?

“We read together every day because both of my children enjoy it.  They like hearing the stories, they get emotional when they see the images and like to express themselves and react to the stories.”


Why does Rene like going to the doctor?

“When he gets the books in the doctor’s office, he is excited because it is a new book for us to read together. You can see it on his face, he has a huge smile”


What are some of Rene’s & Alondra’s favorite books?

“Rene loves to read books about animals.  His favorite currently is one about a horse that saves his brothers and sisters. We read it daily.  His sister,  Alondra, loves reading Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Snow White.  She is now learning to read and write, so I still read aloud to her every day too.”

Thank You Summer Volunteers!

Summer is the busiest time of year for RORKC because our clinics see so many patients! This means that RORKC needs extra help labeling books, collecting gently-used books, and completing other office tasks.  Thankfully, we have had some great volunteers in our office. Check out some of the people and groups we’ve had stop by:




Carrie is a local high school student who volunteered around our office during the entire month of June. She helped with office tasks and book labeling. Thanks Carrie!












These 3 students from Northwest Missouri State-Kansas City Campus created over 300 of our kindergarten book bags! These bags include important information about beginning school & how to register for Kindergarten. Thank you!

northwest missouri state




Primrose Explorer Camp 6-2017 (8)

Thank you to the  Primrose Adventure Club! These campers volunteered their afternoon to help label  hundreds books for us.












UMKC Medical Students held a book drive for RORKC this summer, collecting a ton of new and gently used books for our partner clinics. Thank You!












J-Camp 7-2017 (7)


These campers, from the Jewish Community Center J-Camp, volunteered their morning to help label books.  You guys are awesome!



jewish community center




Thank you to all of our summer volunteers!

Register Now for our First 5K Run/Walk, Race to Read!

Reach Out and Read Kansas City (RORKC) is excited to announce our first 5K run on Saturday, August 26th at Swope Park. The 5K race and other kid-friendly activities will begin at 8 am.



When: Saturday, August 26th at 8 am


Location: Swope Park (Battle of Westport Visitor Center)
The race will be a 5K cross country course throughout the park.


Entry Fee: $30
Runners need to sign up by August 12th to be guaranteed a T-Shirt. There is no cost for kid-friendly events.






Packet Pickup: 
Friday, August 25th from 5-7 pm
Saturday, August 26th starting at 7 am


Schedule on August 26th:
7 am: Packet Pickup
8 am: 5K Begins
9 am: Children Relay Races Begin
9:30 am: Awards and Raffle Prizes Announced


RACE kid run

Family Fun:
Starting at 8 am, face painting, and Molly Balloons will be on site for kids and at 9 am relay races will begin. Throughout the entire event, there will be live music provided by Mudflap Mafia.


Sponsorship Opportunities:
Interested in sponsoring the Race to Read 5K? View more information.


Weather Cancellation Policy:

The safety of our participants is the most important thing and if any threatening weather conditions are present the day of the event, the event may be delayed or canceled.
View our Weather Cancellation Policy


Volunteer Opportunities:
If you would like to learn more about volunteering to read in a clinic with a child or how to volunteer for this race, please contact Jenny Horsley or call 913-588-2793.

Welcome new Community Council member, Paula!

paulaReach Out and Read Kansas City is pleased to welcome another new Community Council member, Paula Matthews!


Paula is the Director of Talent Management and Development at Hallmark. She holds her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, making her a great addition to our council.  In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her family and volunteering with her children’s school district and other organizations. She says this about the RORKC’s mission:



I became interested in Reach out and Read because of my kids, Caroline, age 11 and Will, 9.   Both are avid readers and reading together from their infancy has been one of the most amazing things we’ve done as a family and one of the things I treasure most as their mom.   I believe early literacy is critical to a child’s development.

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary: Reading Aloud Builds Healthy Relationships

The following message is a guest blog from Sallie Page-Goertz MN, APRN.  Sallie is the Medical Director of Reach Out and Read KC and a Nurse Practitioner at KUMC Pediatrics.


“For children, a well-constructed brain depends on genetic makeup, the environment, and most important, the children’s relationships with adults who are attentive to them…and care deeply about them.”  (Petersen S.  Young Children. P.14. September 2012.)


I can’t say it better!  Children need people to hold, them, love them, talk, read and play with them for the very best developmental outcome.  Reading aloud is one strategy that serves to bring a caring adult into close physical contact with a child, doing a pleasurable activity.  For both children and adults, these special times help reduce stress and build relationships over time. 


sallie book

Reach Out and Read came into being because pediatricians who specialized in children’s development were concerned about their observations that parents were not in conversation with their infants and children; parents were not in close physical contact with their infants and children.  The strategy of having a health care provider give a prescription to caregivers to share books with children, along with the gift of a new, developmentally and culturally appropriate book, was the pediatricians’ response to those concerns.


Reading aloud, (or book sharing – making up one’s own stories based on the pictures, talking about the pictures on the page – the colors, the objects) is a time when caregivers can experience serve-and-return communication.  The caregiver reads/comments, and then listens/watches for the child’s response, and then reads/shares some more.  It is a great way for children and caregivers to connect.


Babies are attuned to the voices of people in their environment even before they are born.  After birth, their brain is changing rapidly, in part based on their environment.  The first 1000 days are the most sensitive times for the development of vision, hearing, language, and emotional attachment.  Connections between neurons can either be strengthened or pruned during this sensitive time.  One hopes that connections that are helpful to children’s well-being will be the ones strengthened – and this can be a challenge, especially for families who are living in stressful circumstances.


Sharing a book while snuggling a baby or young child strengthens important connections in the brain. Snuggling/being in conversation ameliorates the negative physiologic effects of toxic stress (stress that is unremitting, or intense, or frequent) and fosters the development of close emotional bonds. Reading aloud or sharing books of course helps build vocabulary and enhances a child’s readiness to learn in school, but most importantly, sharing that book makes a connection between things baby loves most – your voice, your closeness, and  books –a love for caregivers plus a love of books translates to a love of learning and a healthy life.


Educating Parents on Safe Sleeping Practices through Children’s Books

sleep baby

A new study from Dr. John Hutton (pediatrician and clinical researcher at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center) and other researchers, found that children’s books with messaging about safe sleep practices are more effective in changing parents behaviors than traditional brochures.


Sleep- related infant deaths (categorized as children under 1-year-old who die unexpectedly) disproportionately affect lower income families. Researchers were interested to see if children’s picture books with safe sleep messaging would educate parents more than traditional methods, like brochures and pamphlets.


sleep baby safe and snug2


To test this, researchers provided families with the book, Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug, by Dr. John Hutton.   Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug is a story filled with safe sleeping practices for new babies.  It even includes a checklist of “Dos and Don’ts” on the back cover as a reference for parents.  It is also the book that RORKC provides at the one-month well-child visit.


For the study, researchers specifically targeted lower income families.  While they conducted their research in primarily English-speaking households, Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug, is also available in Spanish to families at RORKC’s partner clinics.


They found that while both the pamphlets and Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug were similarly effective in educating parents on safe sleep knowledge, parents who had the children’s book were less likely to share beds and more likely to use cribs exclusively.  The researchers attributed this to the idea that reading the book aloud provoked more dialogue and emotional engagement, meaning that they were more likely to follow the advice after they had shared the book with their child.


While the researchers caution that there should be more investigation into the best practices for educating parents on safe sleeping habits, they believe that providing children’s books, like Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug, may be a step in the right direction.

Read the full study.

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary: An Interview with Janice

JaniceHave you ever wondered who decides which books to purchase for our clinics? Or who organizes our book drives and deliveries? Meet Janice, our book coordinator of over 15 years. She’s responsible for purchasing, organizing, and managing the delivery of over 83,000 books to our 51 partner clinics. Recently, Janice joined us to talk about her important role as RORKC’S book coordinator.


How did you first get involved with RORKC?

My family moved to Kansas City in 1997 and one of my sons became friends with the son of Laura Gregory, the chair of the Community Council at the time.  She mentioned that she was involved with this organization and asked if I would have any interest in serving on the Community Council.  After joining the council, I was offered a 10 hour a week position helping Jean Harty, co-founder and medical director, as a book coordinator.  Gradually,  the time commitment increased to the position as is it is now.






How do know which books to purchase for our clinics?


There are a number of different things that help me decide which books to purchase for our clinics.  While I have a degree in early education and special education, I believe that my better qualifications for this job are that I have kids and grandkids. I’ve seen them grow up with books, so I have an idea of what they read and enjoyed.


In addition to my knowledge, I do spend time reading the research and book reviews on what is best for the different age groups.  For example, we know that children around the age of 6-12 months love to see other babies faces in their books. So for our 6-12 month-old books, we focus on purchasing books like the “Baby Days” series, that are full of cute and engaging faces.


Physically, the quality of the book also matters.  Sometimes I’ll look at the paper and think to myself “oh, this isn’t going to last long”,

so I try to stay away from those books.  This may be one of the only books the family has, so we need to give them something durable and long lasting.


It’s also important that we focus on purchasing books in multiple languages and that feature diverse characters.  We know the families and their kids need to see themselves represented in what they are reading.


Medical providers also weigh in on which books we provide.  I ask them how the books are received in the clinics, and their opinions on the books.  They are the ones who are directly providing the books and get to see how the families respond, so we love hearing their input.

Ultimately we just want to give the children and their families good books.


What are “good” books?

It’s certainly all of the classics like Good Night Moon, or books that have received critical praise like the Caldecott Award, but really it’s a book that the families will read with their children.  A book is a good book if the family shares it with their child and if the child pulls it off the shelf to read with mom and dad.  A good book is one that engages the family and encourages them to read aloud together.



What are your personal favorites?

I love the classics, like Brown Bear Brown Bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and all of Sandra Boynton’s books, but I also really like the smaller Dr. Seuss board books that we provide.  They are a little less cumbersome than the regular Dr. Seuss books, but they are still full of rhyming and are very sturdy.


What is the best part of being our Book Coordinator?

I think it’s knowing how many families we are reaching.   I love the organizational aspect of it and managing these types of tasks, but in the end, it’s that all of these Kansas City families are receiving books and literacy advice.



Thank you Janice for all that you do for Reach Out and Read Kansas City!

Welcome Tanya & Truss!

Reach Out and Read Kansas City is thrilled to have two new members on the Community Council.

Join us in welcoming Tanya Rodecker Wendt & Truss Tyson!


TMRW (Small)Tanya is a partner at Deacy & Deacy Law Firm.  A practicing lawyer for over 11 years, she is licensed in both Missouri and Kansas.   Her love of reading and being a member of the Greater Kansas City Pi Beta Phi Alumnae group introduced Tanya to Reach Out and Read Kansas City in 2014, when she first attended the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast. She shares this about the importance of reading:


“Now that my oldest is a kindergartner, I am delighted to listen to her learn to read and share in her pride when she sounds out a new word.  It breaks my heart to think that some children do not have any books to read.  That loss of opportunity to learn, imagine and create is frustrating to me. Which is why I  think that Reach Out and Read’s program to get books into the hands of  infants and educate their parents on the importance of reading is so vital not only to those children but our community as well.”





Truss is the Vice President of FMG and LIHTC Accounting/Investor Reporting at KeyBank Real Estate Capital and holds a Masters in Business Administration from Rockhurst University. His leadership and community involvement with Praire Village Art Council and the Community Outreach Committee at KeyBank make him an excellent addition to our council.   He says this about our mission:


“Reach Out and Read KC’s mission is in tune with my values especially having a 20-month-old at home who loves books!”



Summer Reading Programs in KC!

family reading


Days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, which means one thing: it’s almost summer vacation! While students are rejoicing, it can be a difficult time for parents as they try to prevent the “summer slide”.  This refers to the possible learning setbacks that come as a result of time away from the classroom. Luckily, KC has numerous libraries and educational camps that combat the “summer slide”! We’ve put together a list for you of library programs, summer camps, and events to keep your kids reading this summer!


Library Programs:


Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

May 15th – July 31st

Kick-Off Parties: happening at all locations – check out when your branch is having theirs!


-Family Story Time

-Family Movie Nights

-Practice your reading skills with Reading Education Assistance Dogs

-Bilingual Craft Times

View more information.


Kansas City, Missouri Public Library

Kick-Off Party- May 26th at the Plaza branch with special guest, Jim Cosgrove


-Yoga Storytime

-Rockin’ Rob

-Exotic Animals R Us  Visit

View more information


Mid-Continent Library

May 22nd-July 31st


-A Story Time with Royals Mascot, Slugger!

-Story Times for families, babies and toddlers, and Pre-Schoolers.

-A visit from the SEA LIFE Mobile Touch Tank

-Practice your reading skills with Reading Education Assistance Dogs.

Need more information? View the Mid-Continent Library Website.


Johnson County Public Library:

 May 15th –July 31st


-Summer Storytimes

-Practice your reading skills with Reading Education Assistance Dogs

-Dinosaur O’Dell’s Build a Better World

-Family English-Spanish Storytime

-Marty the Magician’s Magic Workshop

View more information.


Olathe Public Library

May 22nd-July 31st

Kick-Off Party: Tuesday, May 30th, at 10:00 a.m. at Frontier Park in Olathe


-Story Time in the Park

-Family Chess Nights

-Practice your reading skills with Reading Education Assistance Dogs

-Family Movie Nights

-Find Fido Fridays

View more information.


North Kansas City Public library

May 27th – August 5th

Kickoff Party: May 27th


-Storytimes are offered 3 times a week (Monday @ 11:00 a.m., Tuesday @ 7:00 p.m., Wednesday @ 11:00 a.m.)

-Family Programs are every other Saturday at 11:00 a.m

-Mad Science will present their Build a Better World program.

-Bricks4Kids, a hands-on LEGO program

-Animal Tales

View more information.


Summer Camps:


BOOKISH From ABC Preschool

June 27-29
Through the minds and hearts of children, books will be a part of their lives forever. Bookish will open the cover of your child’s imagination by guiding their curiosity with a visit from a real book author, taking a field trip to a real library, writing & illustrating our own books, and delight bringing childhood classics to life with dramatic play.

View more information.


Upper Room:

June 5th – July 28th

Summer Camp Daily Schedule:

8 am – 3:30 pm: Academic instruction time. This includes English Language Arts (ELA) in the morning. Lunch is provided, and the afternoon consists of math and other academic enrichment activities. ELA & Math will be our primary focus during these hours.

3:30 – 6pm: Various recreation & enrichment activities are offered during this time until parents pick up their child. An afternoon snack is also provided.

View more Information.


Other Great Events:


Turn the Page Summer Reading Event

June 20th

Sprint Center

Join Turn the Page for a FREE summer reading celebration at Sprint Center! Mayor James and Turn the Page KC volunteers will lead an afternoon full of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts, and math – activities. Every child will take home a bag of FREE books and resources

View the Facebook Event.


Sylvester Powell Community Center

Ages 0-6 yrs.


M: 10:00-10:30am

Story Time with Miss Diann.  Turn your preschooler into an avid reader before they even start school! Reading aloud to young children encourages learning development and helps prepare them for independent reading down the line. Miss Diann will read a story and help children participate in a fun art activity. Parents participation encouraged during art lesson and required for supervision during story time. $1/child, no class 5/29, 7/3

View more information


Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program:

1.Read any eight books this summer and record them in this
Summer Reading Journal. Tell us which part of the book is your
favorite, and why.
2.Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between
May 16th and September 5th, 2017.
3.Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured
on the back of the journal

Meadow Lane Elementary & Will Shields Are Stuck On Reading!














Each school year, Meadow Lane Elementary encourages their students to complete over 200 days of reading. This reading challenge spans the entire year and has a theme.  This year’s theme was “Get Stuck on Reading”.    Throughout the year, students track the amount of time spent reading at home.   If they reach their goal of reading daily for at least 200 days, then they receive a new book from Will Shields, retired Kansas City Chiefs player. These reading rock stars not only hit their goal this year, but many also donated their new, hard earned books to RORKC.  This year, as a school, they donated over 2,000 books and logged over 63,000 days of reading!


The fifth graders receive a special reward for reaching their goal: a pizza party at lunch with Will Shields!





In the afternoon, the school holds a special assembly, where each fifth grader that reached the goal of 200 days is recognized and receives a signed football from Will Shields.  To thank Will, Meadow Lane closes the assembly with a special song about how much fun it is to read!



Thank you to Will Shields and Meadow Lane Elementary!

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary: An Interview with Michelle

IMG_4953Michelle is a second grader with a passion for reading.   “As soon as I get home from school, I like to go to my room and read,”  she states proudly.  Her family helped develop this love by reading aloud to her starting at birth.  They did this because of the books and literacy advice they received from their medical provider through the Reach Out and Read KC program.   Michelle was one of the nearly 30,000 children in KC that receives new books from their medical provider each year.


After she started receiving the RORKC books, her father built a special bookshelf to store them.  Michelle is now 8 years old and no longer receives brand new books from her medical provider, but does take gently used books from the waiting room to continue her library.  “When I get a new book and I finish reading it, I put it on a bookshelf that my daddy made to keep it safe from other kids.”  said Michelle.


Michelle loves reading because it’s fun! When asked about her favorite kinds of books, she responds, “I like books that make me laugh a lot and smile.  I like books about animals, princesses, all  kinds of books. ”


Her family has also transitioned from solely reading aloud to her, to having Michelle practice reading aloud to them.  “I love reading aloud with my family because it makes them happy and it helps me become a better reader, ” Michelle says.


We love your passion for reading Michelle!