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
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.
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.
Make your gift go further by joining our monthly donating club, the Brain Builders.
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 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.”
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!
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!
These campers, from the Jewish Community Center J-Camp, volunteered their morning to help label books. You guys are awesome!
Thank you to all of our summer volunteers!
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Reach 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have 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!
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!
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!”
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!
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
Kansas City, Missouri Public Library
Kick-Off Party- May 26th at the Plaza branch with special guest, Jim Cosgrove
-Exotic Animals R Us Visit
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
-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
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
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
BOOKISH From ABC Preschool
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.
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.
Other Great Events:
Turn the Page Summer Reading Event
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
Sylvester Powell Community Center
Ages 0-6 yrs.
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
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program:1.Read any eight books this summer and record them in thisSummer Reading Journal. Tell us which part of the book is yourfavorite, and why.2.Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store betweenMay 16th and September 5th, 2017.3.Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featuredon the back of the journal
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!
We’re seeking new members for our community leadership and advisory council. This is a great opportunity for anyone with a record of leadership and passion for RORKC’s mission.
The Community Council supports the work of Reach Out and Read Kansas City and provides mission-based leadership and strategic governance. While day-to-day operations are led by ROR’s Executive Director, the Council/Director relationship is a partnership, and the appropriate involvement of the Council is both critical and expected. Qualified applicants will be leaders in business, government, philanthropy, the medical field, or the nonprofit sector.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF A COUNCIL MEMBER:
Advocacy: Actively champion and advocate for a call to action related to early literacy and kindergarten readiness causes. This includes but is not limited to sharing Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s message and news about programs and events through personal and professional networks as appropriate.
Committee and event participation: Members are asked to actively participate in at least one standing committee and to support the annual fundraising breakfast through the purchase of a ticket and/or their attendance.
Ambassador responsibilities: Attend and/or volunteer at least one third-party sponsored meeting or event as an “official” representative of Reach Out and Read Kansas City.
Attendance: The Council meets bi-monthly on the second Friday of the month, from 11:30a-1:00 pm at the Reach Out and Read office located at 2100 W. 36th Ave., Kansas City, KS 66103. Members are asked to attend these meeting on a regular basis and send advance notification for an excused absence.
Length of service: Members are asked to commit to serving a minimum of three consecutive years on the Council, with the opportunity to re-up for an additional three-year term. Terms coincide with the organization’s fiscal year which begins on July 1 and concludes June 30.
Financial commitment: There are no annual dues or minimum financial requirements associated with Council membership. Members are encouraged to support Reach Out and Read Kansas City by making a financial contribution in an amount that is meaningful to them. In addition, members are asked to assist with identifying potential donors and/or event sponsors. Staff will approach and cultivate these opportunities.
Candidates should email the Council Development Committee with:
– their resume or bio
– a cover letter describing their interest in the organization/connection with our mission and what skills they would bring to the Council
On Tuesday, December 2nd, Reach Out and Read KC provided our 1 millionth book at the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Pediatric Clinic. The millionth book was presented to a local family after their 4th month old son’s well child visit. Watch highlights from the presentation below!
ROR National Medical Director Presents in KC at Regional Pediatrics Conference
The Reach Out and Read program and message of “Books Build Better Brains” took center stage on September 22, as Dr. Perri Klass, National Medical Director of ROR presented both the morning’s keynote speech and a subsequent working session to an audience of 200 pediatric care providers. Klass was the featured speaker at the 49th Annual Clinical Advances in Pediatrics Symposium, presented by Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics at Children’s Mercy Park. She explained and provided evidence supporting the many benefits young children garner by being read aloud to. Additionally, she urged attendees to take advantage of the special relationship between families and pediatric providers to support parenting practices that promote early brain development through literacy-related practices. Dr. Klass suggested the message to parents should include, “your baby will love books, because your baby loves you,” and therefore will love and look forward to time spent together sharing books.
Reach Out and Read Kansas City is pleased to have four new members on our Community Council. Join us in welcoming Ashley Bieck, Liz Vasquez, Mary Olive Thompson, and Kathleen Johanson.
Ashley Bieck is the Manager of National Medical Society Engagement at UnitedHealthcare, focusing on building external relationships and making sure the care provider point of view is well-represented. She previously worked for the American Academy of Family Physicians for eight years in workforce development and policy. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Biology, as well as a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Ashley loves spending time with her husband, Nathan, and five year old daughter, Maddie, and volunteering for a host of community and governmental organizations. Ashley shares the following about her commitment to community service:
I have dedication for helping the underserved in the Kansas City community and have tried to focus my volunteer career life on programs related to health, housing and hope. I would welcome the opportunity for additional service. And, that is what it is, service to an organization you are passionate about.
Mary Olive Thompson is the Director of Library Outreach and Community Engagement at Kansas City Public Library. She holds Master’s degrees in both Social Work, and in Library and Information Science. In addition, Mary has over ten years of experience working with a variety of community and social service agencies in the Lawrence KS and the Kansas City Metro areas. She and her fiancé are also expecting their first child in December and couldn’t be happier for the coming life changes! After reading The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, Mary found a deep appreciation for reading aloud to children. She shares the following about how the principle in The Read Aloud Handbook led her to RORKC:
I find these same principles in the Reach Out and Read program and would love to provide my skills and sweat equity to help RORKC continue to build the personal library of children across the metro, create a reading-rich environment, and encourage parents and caregivers to read aloud to their children.
Kathleen Johansen is the Senior Communications Liaison at The University of Kansas Hospital. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, a Master of Science degree in Health Education, and she has over ten years of experience in Communications and Journalism. Kathleen is also an active member of Junior League where she has a reputation for being a hard worker and very creative. Kathleen shares the following about her passion for reading aloud:
My love for reading and sharing bedtime stories with my son is why I want to join the Reach Out and Read Community Council. I will never forget the first time my son read along with me during his favorite bedtime story, “Old Hat, New Hat.” Oh, the joy! He was barely two-years-old but had already become a voracious reader. I started reading to him before he was born and he was reading on his own by the time he turned three.
Elizabeth Vasquez is a Physician’s Assistant at Health Partners Olathe, a Reach Out and Read KC partner clinic. She delivers the Reach Out and Read program to the children and families she sees in her practice and represents their sites (Olathe and Growing Futures) at our quarterly Clinic Coalition meetings. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Along with a love for reading and sharing books, she has a deep understanding of the need for and importance of our program and its role in fostering learning and healthy brain development. She says the following about her love of reading:
I started reading at a young age and was encouraged by my parents greatly and some of my fondest memories are of my parents reading to me nightly, us reading out loud together, and going to library readings. All of these early opportunities aided in writing, comprehension for later tests through school, and helped in general with all of my school subjects. Reading and writing have been a very big part of my life, and I would like to pass this on to other families throughout my work career.
We are thrilled to welcome our new Communications Specialist, Sydney Milner. Sydney joins our team as a full-time volunteer through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
Sydney is from St. Louis, and she holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Arkansas. She describes herself as an avid reader, and last year she spent 6 months living and volunteering at high-poverty schools in South Africa where she realized how many opportunities can open for young children just by improving their literacy skills. She says “I am excited to join Reach Out and Read Kansas City and help promote their mission of encouraging family reading throughout my year of service.”
RORKC’s Executive Director, Mark Mattison, and Medical Director, Sallie Page-Goertz, attended the ROR National Conference in Boston, May 11-13. Of greatest benefit to them was getting together with leadership of other Reach Out and Read programs to share ideas and best practices, as well as a wonderful opportunity to put faces to names and voices of folks we work with regularly around the country.
On multiple occasions throughout the conference RORKC was acknowledged as an exemplary program. Most significantly, a video of our founder, Dr. Jean Harty, was used to introduce the session on implementing the 0-6mos program nationwide, acknowledging her insistence that it always be a part of KC program. Other takeaways of note were a commitment from National to begin providing content for grant applications connecting outside research in early brain development to the ROR program, and Sallie connecting with other nurse practitioners and making plans to present together on the ROR program at the National NP Conference this summer. The conference was sponsored through a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and other corporate sponsors.
It has been shown over and over that Reach Out and Read program has significant benefits for infants, but a pilot study in Maternal and Child Health Journal indicates that the program may also have notable benefits for adolescent mothers.
Adolescent mothers are more likely to experience maternal depression. This is likely a cause of the elevated language delay for their children, since depression can impair a mother’s ability to be a responsive caregiver. Fortunately, reading aloud together encourages mothers to enjoy time spent with children while doing something fun and interactive, resulting in healthier attachments and reduced depression.
The aforementioned study encouraged reading by implementing the Reach Out and Read model, and used questionnaires and the Beck Depression Inventory-Revised to measure results. The participating clinicians attended a 1-hour session informing them of counseling strategies that are attuned to the unique needs of adolescent mothers. The model was implemented using three components common to ROR clinics: 1. The clinician giving an age-appropriate book to the child during a check-up; 2. The clinician administering literacy advice; and 3. A language-rich clinic environment, including volunteer readers. The program is feasible and low cost because the books and resources were donated, and the clinic readers were volunteers.
Though it cost very little, the program was effective in reducing maternal depression and increasing time spend reading together. Researchers also observed high recruitment and retention rates, which was noteworthy considering the high frequency of missed appointments for adolescent mothers at the clinic.
The study did have a small sample size and only included one clinic, so the results could not reach a statistically significant conclusion. However, the observations made here show promise for further study and will hopefully lead to research on a larger scale. This information also provides a reminder that the Reach Out and Read program is simple, but its effects are varied, broad, and profound. Our program begins in the clinic, but it is hard to say when (or whether) it ends, for the benefits of hearing a story in the arms of a loved one are benefits that last a lifetime.
We all know how frustrating it is to talk to someone who is distracted by a mobile device, but did you know that it can also pose a potential developmental risk for infants? Reach Out and Read National Center recently posted an article by Dr. Robert Needlman, ROR co-founder, describing the parallels between screen-focused behavior and Ed Trunick’s “Still Face Paradigm.”
The Still Face Paradigm comes from a series of studies by Dr. Ed Trunick. In these studies, each mother would interact with her baby by cooing, gesturing, and touching, back and forth. Then, on a signal from the research team, the mother would become still faced, no longer interacting with her baby.
Dr. Needlman describes the baby’s reaction, “The baby’s response, at first, was to act even more adorable, as if trying harder to recapture the mother’s interest. Then, when the mother remained impassive, the baby would become angry, crying in rage. Then, when even that failed, the baby would slump back, defeated, looking depressed. Babies whose mothers actually did suffer from depression did less flirting and protesting. Instead, they skipped right to “defeated.” It was as if they knew – had learned – that mother wasn’t to be counted on as a partner. These babies protected themselves by investing less emotional energy in the exchange, building walls against closeness and disappointment.”
Dr. Needlman explains that this still-faced behavior is much like the behavior of a person who is preoccupied by a mobile device: They remain impassive, show little or no facial expression, and do not actively interact with those around them. This may be appropriate at times, and smartphones have many advantages that are hard to give up. However, screen focused behavior is something to be mindful of, especially around young children. Like second-hand smoke, second-hand screens may pose a risk to those other than the user.
Dr. Dana Suskind makes a similar point in her book “Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain.” In this book, Dr. Suskind lists three guidelines for improving a child’s brain development:
1. Tune in to what the child is interested in and respond to that interest.
2. Talk more by engaging in frequent and high-quality speech with the child.
3. Take turns by letting the baby participate and responding, back and forth.
Sound familiar? These behaviors are much like what the “Still Faced Experiment” mothers did before they were instructed to make their faces blank. Of course, you can’t effectively “tune in” and “take turns” when engrossed in content on a screen, which is why Dr. Suskind adds a fourth guideline: Turn it off. As in, turn off distracting devices when spending time with your child. Besides we can think of a fun activity that doesn’t require any screens: Reading a book!
Our winner for the 2016 Hooked on Books drive is Clear Creek Elementary School! They collected 6711 books,
for an average of 13.4 books per student.
Hooked on Books is our annual city-wide book drive and friendly competition between schools. It originated 17 years ago as a joint initiative of the Junior League of Kansas City and the KC Star. Reach Out and Read KC adopted the program in 2010, and it has continued to be a successful book collection program over the years.
The winning school is determined by the ratio of books collected per student, and the winning school receives bragging rights, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of RORKC and Scholastic Books, a celebration assembly, and a teacher gift basket courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen. All participants receive a bookmark and a coupon for a free kid’s pizza at California Pizza Kitchen.
This year, we had 19 schools and Rainy Day Books collect a grand total of 24,033 books that will be given to RORKC clinics as well as multiple local nonprofits and schools. With the help of the Junior League of Kansas City and the KC Star, we will be sorting and distributing these books to local agencies during the month of March.
Reach Out and Read KC is always trying to provide more books to more kids in the Kansas City Area. Because of your continued support, we have been able to give over 1700 more books to more kiddos at well-child visits in the first half of this fiscal year than we did in the first half of last year. This is such good news for us and for KC kids! Thank you for helping us make it happen.
Join us in welcoming Eric Morey and Larissa Grantham,
the two newest members of the Reach Out and Read Community Council!
Eric is Director of Client Services at DST Systems, Inc. His experience prior to DST was in project management. He received his MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in December 2014. Eric shared the following about himself and why he feels so strongly about the Reach Out and Read program:
Books and reading have always been a large part of my daily life. I was encouraged to read as a child and this has stayed with me as an adult (I’ve been in a book club for many years). I believe humans share a special connection with a physical book which cannot be easily replaced with modern technology. Working with an organization which provides something so special during critical phases of development would be an honor.
Larissa is a Financial Planner at Stepp & Rothwell, Inc. Before joining the Council, she was a volunteer reader for one year and has served on the finance committee since 2014. Larissa shared the following about her passion for reading and interest in the Reach Out and Read program:
I know that being a good reader has made my life easier, both in school and on the job. It has also been a wonderful way to escape in times of stress. I have been blessed to share that joy with both of my two sons, Carter, age 6, and Grayson, age 2. When I found RORKC, I started as a volunteer reader in the clinic at KU Prairie Village, and I loved being able to share that joy with the children that I saw each visit. I look forward to helping the program thrive and help give the area’s children a much needed boost in the right direction towards success.
We are thrilled to report that the Every Student Succeeds Act has passed. This piece of legislation recognizes the importance of pediatric literacy organizations, such as Reach Out and Read. The Every Student Succeeds Act was to developed to ensure quality education for all children. This act received overwhelming bipartisan support, including votes from some Kansas and Missouri representatives.
The Every Student Succeeds Act can be read here. There are sections of this act that encourage funds for preschool and other early childhood education programs, support programs that involve parents and family members, and encourage children’s literacy and early childhood literacy preparation. This looks like a great step and we look forward to seeing how this law improves education and literacy preparation for children.
Results from our 2015 annual survey of parents have been tallied and we have good news to share! Of the 1090 families reporting between late August and late October, 99% of families said they received a book at their child’s well-child visit, 94% remember receiving literacy advice from their medical provider, and 83% of parents with children between 6 months and 5 years old say that they read to their children three or more times per week.
Statistics tell us how many books we provide to children, but this self-reporting from parents is true confirmation that we are fulfilling our mission of preparing Kansas City’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
We are excited to announce the award of $25,000 from the Hall Family Foundation to fund for two years the purchase and distribution of a new book at the one month well child checkup.
Providers at our 51 partner clinics see up to 7000 children between birth and 4-months-old each year. Adding a new book at one month provides consistency in the prescriptive message and delivery of our program and extends the library of new books provided by RORKC to a total of 15.
The book selected to launch this program, Sleep Baby Safe and Snug, was created by Charlie’s Kids Foundation for Safe Sleep to reinforce the message of safe sleep habits to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is available in both Spanish and English.
Over the past month, our director, Mark, and volunteer manager, Jenny,
set out on a series of day trips to visit each of the 51 partner clinics
delivering the Reach Out and Read program.
This was no small task since the clinics are located across both sides of the
state line and in 7 counties throughout greater KC. Most were easy to find,
some were so far we needed to pack a lunch, and only one threw us for a loop
because the post office changed their address even though the office stayed
put. Though the undertaking was great, the information we gained from the
wonderful people and places we visited was even greater. We saw first hand what
each of our providers have been telling us all along – these folks are
BUSY, they work very hard, and the new and used books we give them are highly
valued by the providers and the families they serve.
To all the staff, nurses, doctors, and practitioners who carved out a few
minutes to say hi and show us around – THANK YOU. We couldn’t do
what we do without you.
Join us in welcoming Lucia Jones, the newest member to the
Reach Out and Read Community Council!
Lucia is a nurse and Program Manager at the Community
Health Council of Wyandotte County. Before joining the Council, she shared the
following information about herself and why she feels so strongly about the
value and importance of Reach Out and Read:
(Growing up in Uruguay,)
I come from a family where books and reading are part of the norm. In my family
books are birthday and Christmas presents. They are reason for laughs and
arguments. I have many memories of my mother reading her books until late into
the night, and my grandma reading a passage out loud for us to enjoy. I read my
first novel when I was 11 years old, my mom gave it to me and it had been given to her by my grandpa. 12 years ago, I became a mother and faced the challenges of being a good and productive parent. Going to school, working, and taking
care of my kids was difficult, but I knew how important it was for my kids to
have a relationship with books and reading.
I believe we are the result of our environment, and for many the environment does not support the formation of reading habits that will have a lifelong impact. For me, reading is learning and loving. It is spending time with your child, it is imagining and dreaming. Reading means learning and improving, and our community needs all of that. I believe the Reach Out and Read KC program is very important because it brings families closer to books and (good) reading habits, and because it brings families together. I hope my experience, relationships, and understanding of the the KCK community will bring a positive impact to the council and program.“
We are looking for an AmeriCorps VISTA Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. VISTA members are full-time volunteers who give a year of service for poverty alleviation. In return, they receive a living allowance and healthcare benefits. Read more or apply.
As Father’s Day approaches, Mayor Sly James and our partners at LINC and Turn the Page KC have launched a campaign to encourage KC fathers to spend time reading to their children. Between now and June 21, share a photo of yourself or a dad you know reading to his kids on our Facebook page, Instagram, or Twitter using the hashtag #DadsTurnThePage and you could win Royals tickets! Watch this video for more details.
Thanks to those who have already responded to our Spring fundraising appeal sent last week from our Medical Director, Sallie Page-Goertz (pictured below with a young patient and mom.)
In case you missed it, Sallie also shared a hot-off-the-press article from AAP News about a recent study where MRI scans show associations between reading to young children and brain activity. These results provide new evidence for something we’ve known all along – sharing books with infants and toddlers can promote brain development and support reading readiness. Read the full article here.
Save a stamp when responding to Sallie’s request. Contribute to Reach Out and Read KC online through our secure website.
Once again RIF has partnered with Macy’s to create Be Book Smart, a national partnership to raise awareness and support of children’s literacy. The effort helps RIF provide free books and literacy resources to children nationwide, and Reach Out and Read KC is fortunate to be the program’s local recipient.
Between June 21 –July 12, 2015, shoppers at any of the Greater Kansas City area Macy’s can give $3 to provide a book for a child in need and receive a coupon for $10 off a $30 in-store purchase at any Macy’s nationwide. The discount can be applied on purchases made that day or in the future. Macy’s will give 100% of every $3 to RIF. New this year, in addition to the $10 off $30 discount, Macy’s will also offer 20% off a future purchase.
This year’s campaign has a special focus on summer reading. Research shows that reading books during the summer is the most effective way for a child to maintain and even improve their literacy skills. Each coupon sold during the campaign provides a book for a child and just as important, the spark to keep them reading during the school year and all summer long.
We are very excited to introduce our new Manager of Volunteer and Constituent Relations, Jenny Horsley.
Jenny worked previously as Director of Volunteer Services at Operation Breakthrough where she handled a variety of volunteers and events, including working with the Reach Out and Read Program. Prior to that, she served as the Disabilities and Mental Health Coordinator at Head Start in Columbia, MO. Jenny holds a degree in Human Development as well as a Master in Business Administration, and is very involved in the nonprofit community. Over the past 10 years she has helped organize special events and raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation, and served in many positions on the Executive Board of the Greater KC Alumnae Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, most recently serving as President of the organization.
Jenny proudly shares that she and her husband have two beautiful children, Tegan (age 4) and Connor (age 6), and because she loves reading and sharing books with her children, they love it, too. “My son is excelling in school and my daughter “reads” pictures every day,” she said. “I truly believe in the power of reading and want every child to have this great advantage in life.”
In addition to meeting and working with Reach Out and Read’s amazing volunteers and supporters this summer, Jenny is looking forward to playing volleyball, summer BBQ’s, and cheering on the Royals. Please join us in welcoming Jenny. We are so thrilled to have her on the team!
Everyone knows the holidays are a time for thanks giving and for giving back. As I reflect on the past year, I am so very grateful to have been entrusted with this wonderful opportunity to spend every day giving back alongside the mighty staff of five, 46 clinic partners, and over 200 active volunteers of Reach Out and Read Kansas City. Also, I am thankful to you, for your past support and ongoing commitment to helping ensure every child in Kansas City will enter school ready to learn.
Since coming on board as Executive Director in September, I have been challenged, inspired, and ever-so-honored to play a part in the important work we do and the contributions we make to improve the lives of children. Not only do I hear it every day in testimonials from our volunteers and clinic staff, in a recent Parent Survey 98% of our families reported getting a book at their child’s well-child visit, 95% of families reported getting literacy advice, and, as a result, 82% of families reported reading to their children three or more times per week!
As you take a moment to give thanks this holiday season, I invite you to share your good fortune by also giving the gift of literacy – truly a gift that keeps on giving. A donation of just $60 to Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides a child with their own starter library, a new book received at each well-child visit from birth to 5 years old.
Your gift will spark the joy of learning in thousands of children throughout Greater Kansas City. Thanks to you and other advocates, in the next twelve months medical providers will meet with parents over 72,000 times to prescribe the importance of sharing books with their children. 30,000 children will take home a brand new age, language, and culturally appropriate book from their well-child pediatric appointment. And volunteers trained and provided by Reach Out and Read Kansas City will model book sharing skills as they read to children in clinic waiting rooms.
Research confirms that parents who receive literacy counseling from their health care providers, according to the Reach Out and Read model, are more likely to read to their young children, read more often, and have more children’s books in their homes. Over 70% of the children who visit Reach Out and Read Kansas City clinics come from low income families, and many of these families are struggling just to cover the basic necessities of food, rent, utilities, and transportation. They wish they could provide books for their children but their hard earned paycheck just doesn’t stretch that far. With your gift, Reach Out and Read Kansas City can help these children start the first day of kindergarten having experienced the joy of owning their own book, ready to read and learn.
Best wishes and Happy Holidays,
Results from our annual survey to parents have been tallied and we have good news to report! Of the 1085 families reporting between late August and late October, 98% of families said they received a book at their child’s well-child visit, 95% remember receiving literacy advice from their medical provider, and 82% say that they read to their children three or more times per week! Purchasing, delivery, and inventory statistics tell us how many books we provide to children by way of our clinic partners, but this self-reporting from parents is true confirmation that we are fulfilling our mission of preparing Kansas City’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
We would like to take this opportunity to show our gratitude for the clinics that are excelling in our program. At the following sites 100% of families surveyed reported reading to their children three or more times a week:
Brookside Family Medical Group Leavenworth County Health Department Platte County Health Department Southwest Boulevard Family Care Swope Central
At the following sites, 100% of families reported receiving early literacy advice from their medical providers:
Argentine Family Care Brookside Family Medical Group Grain Valley Family Medical Care Heartland Primary Care Hope Family Care Jackson County Health Department KU Silver City Clinic Swope Independence Leavenworth County Health Department Platte County Health Department Samuel Rodgers Health Center Samuel Rodgers Northland Health Center Swope West TMC – Center for Family Health Turner House Children’s Clinic
We want to be sure all of our families receive literacy advice and a book. This survey shows that we are doing well—almost all of our families are getting advice and books and this is translating into a high percentage of families sharing books with their children three or more times per week. Thank you to all our supporters and especially to our providers for making early literacy a critical aspect of your pediatric practice!
We’re thrilled to share our 2013-2014 National Annual Report. 25 years ago doctors created Reach Out and Read in one exam room, in one hospital, and in one city. Today, it has grown to impact 4 million children with 5000 sites in all 50 states.
Here’s a short recap of our 2013-2014 year:
-Received David M. Rubenstein Award from Library of Congress in recognition of our groundbreaking work to advance early literacy
-Received a 1 million book donation from Scholastic
-Attended Clinton Global Initiative America meeting, made new commitments with Too Small to Fail, AAP, and Scholastic
We hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out and celebrate an amazing year (and 25-year journey in early literacy) with us. Thank you for your continual support and partnership!
Our national chapter of Reach Out and Read was featured on The Today Show! It was an incredible piece about Dr. Carolyn Boone, one of Reach Out and Read’s pediatricians that serves in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Boone and her story were featured as part of Today’s “Hope To It” series, which highlights people who have overcome adversity and are now giving back in their lives.
Dr. Carolyn Boone is more than just a pediatrician of 30+ years. She is also a mentor, a teacher, and a part of the families of the patients she serves. As part of her involvement in the Reach Out and Read program, she starts each appointment with a book, understanding the vital importance of reading. Dr. Boone was a child of teenage pregnancy, raised by a foster mother on a small farm without much, but she did have books — and the message to pass along her love of reading to others throughout her life.
She became a doctor, dedicating her life to low-income families and adopting an holistic approach to medicine. “Books are just as important as an immunization,” says Dr. Boone, noting that books make sure the brain develops properly and are a way for parents to interact and talk with their children. Every day she promotes literacy and offers hope to the families she serves. The piece truly captures the power of Reach Out and Read, and how together through reading, we are changing lives, families, and futures.
If the video does not work, watch the piece here.
Reach Out and Read Kansas City has been named sub-recipient in a $3.8 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant awarded to the Children’s Reading Foundation by the U.S. Department of Education. For 2014-2015, we will receive $22,590 to pilot two new early literacy and early learning programs to serve high-poverty communities in the Greater Kansas City area.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to build upon the solid foundation of our existing clinic-based school readiness program by presenting early learning and literacy skills workshops directly to local families,” said Mark Mattison, Executive Director of Reach Out and Read Kansas City. “Following the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s decision to add Kindergarten Readiness to its Big 5 Goals, this grant provides the perfect opportunity for us to do our part by expanding our current role.” Per the terms of the grant, we will be introducing in Kansas City the READY! For Kindergarten and Read Up programs, both developed by the Children’s Reading Foundation and currently operating successfully in chapter sites throughout the U.S. and Canada.
READY! For Kindergarten classes provide training and tools for parents and caregivers, equipping them to help children birth to age five develop strong brain connections, ensuring school success. Studies show nearly 80 percent of children whose parents take part in READY! meet the kindergarten reading readiness standard regardless of family income or ethnicity, compared to 55 percent of children whose parents do not attend.
The Read Up program is a summer literacy program that helps keep reading a part of daily summer routines by providing free books and weekly story times for children birth to eight. The program aims to reverse the “summer slide,” a situation where students lose up to three months of reading skills when school is out. Through this program, Reach Out and Read Kansas City will receive and distribute more than 13,000 books.
The nonprofit National Children’s Reading Foundation is headquartered in Kennewick, Wash. The organization was founded in 1996 with the vision that every child learns to read early and well, thereby reaching his or her full potential in school and life. The reading foundation developed and delivers national programs focused on reading skills and school readiness for children birth to age five. The organization also helps establish local Children’s Reading Foundation chapters in communities across the country. Learn more at: www.readingfoundation.org.
Read the Children’s Reading Foundation’s press release.
Early literacy has become a popular topic this week as the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first-ever policy statement focused on literacy promotion. The policy calls for pediatricians to advise all parents about the many benefits of reading aloud, which promotes literacy and motor skills.
The new statement, aimed at 62,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics’, urges pediatricians to talk to parents about how critical reading aloud is for children’s brain development and literacy skills, and to provide books during visits for all low-income, high-risk children.
Reach Out and Read Kansas City is extremely excited to see how this new policy affects children’s development and enhances their lives. For 25 years, Reach Out and Read has trained doctors and nurse practitioners to give books and early literacy advice at well-child visits, and now that it is becoming an official policy for all pediatricians to follow, even more parents will understand the importance of reading to their children every day.
Studies have shown that every year, more than one in three children enter kindergarten without the language skills required to learn how to read. In low-income families, children hear very few words by the time they are three. Reach Out and Read works to solve this problem every day and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new policy is another step in the right direction.
Now, there is nowhere to go but up as we continue to fight for children’s literacy and hope to witness even more children enter school ready to read and succeed.