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!
Tuesday, April 11th, is the last day to purchase your tickets for RORKC’s 20th Birthday Breakfast. Get them now, before they’re gone!
To celebrate 20 years of providing literacy advice and over 1 million books to kids in KC, we’re hosting the 20th Birthday Breakfast fundraiser on Thursday, April 20th, from 7:30- 9 am at the Uptown Theater. Join us for a morning of fun including breakfast, birthday cake, a ceremonial toast by Honorary Hosts, Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings, and entertainment by Jim Cosgrove. Dhomonique Ricks, anchor from FOX-4 TV, will also be joining in on the celebration as the Master of Ceremonies.
This year, the Hooked On Books Challenge collected over 24,000 gently used books from 20 elementary schools on both sides of the state line and Rainy Day Books. Congratulations to Manchester Park Elementary, from the Olathe School District, for collecting the most books, an average of 12 books per student! These gently used books will be distributed throughout our partner clinics and other literacy agencies.
On March 25th, 52 volunteers joined us at the Kansas City Star to help sort books. Each book was labeled with a “Hooked On Books” Sticker and sorted into an appropriate reading level category.
Over 11,000 books will be sent to RORKC’s partner clinics for children in the waiting rooms. The rest were donated to other great Kansas City organizations, such as the Urban Scholastic Center, COR Bookmobile, KCK Public Libraries and more.
A special thank you to the 20 Junior League of Kansas City volunteers for their help sorting and labeling books, to The Kansas City Star for storage and printing, and to the 18 Cerner volunteers for helping us deliver these books to the great organizations. Thank you to all that helped us make this year’s Hooked On Books Challenge a success!
On Thursday, April 20th, Reach Out and Read Kansas City will be celebrating our 20th anniversary of providing new and developmentally appropriate books to children at their well-child visits with a Birthday Breakfast. Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings, long-time supporters of RORKC, are our honorary hosts for the breakfast. Recently, we sat down with them to talk about how they became involved with RORKC and why they’ve continued their support over the years.
How did you become involved with RORKC?
Pamela: I was working for the Kansas University Endowment Association at the Medical Center when a colleague of mine told us that Reach Out and Read KC launched and we should all volunteer to read. Reading is a great passion of mine so I was excited to be a part of it. It was so great because you would read to the children in the clinics as they were waiting for their appointment. You really got familiar with the children books, which was fun because everyone thought I was an expert, but it’s only because I was sitting with the kids and reading aloud to them.
Michael: My wife [Pamela] became a volunteer reader at the start of the program and I saw how much joy she took from reading to the children and the passion she had for reading, so I became involved as well.
Why did you begin investing in Reach Out & Read Kansas City?
Pamela: I love the fact that the mission brings together both pediatric care and encourages families to experience the love of reading. During the appointment, the doctor can observe the child and their development while they are handling the book. Then they talk to parents about the value of reading and what that can mean for their child’s development and education.
Michael: Reading is so important. It is a gateway to learning and therefore education. We live in a time where it seems that some leaders don’t think reading is important and some people seem to be averse to learning. In order to have a rich and full life in this technological age we live in and the economy it creates, learning and education are critical to life’s success.
Why have you continued your support for RORKC over the years?
Pamela: It’s very personal for me because my parents shared their love of reading with me as a child. One of my favorite memories is walking to the North Kansas City library with my mother every week to go get new books. Then at night, my father read the bedtime stories with me. He has this lovely voice and years later when cancer took away his voice through a laryngectomy, I could still hear it in my memories and my dreams. That is what is so wonderful for parents, being able to have this experience with their children. Children will not just remember reading the book with them. It’s far more than reading a book, it’s more than just words on a page. They are going to remember the snuggling time with their parents, their scent, their voices, the time that their parent took to be with them. These memories will always encourage their children to read. I know whenever I would travel for business if I had time to spare I always went to the local library or bookstore and found something new to read. Reading is something that has always stayed with me.
Michael: Reading is so important. It’s a passion of mine that started in my childhood. My parents somehow scrapped together the money to buy a set of encyclopedias – which was a kind of internet of the time- and it had a set of children’s books. Those books had stories of faraway places and people that really ignited my imagination on rainy days when I couldn’t get outside to play.
Then as a high school freshman, for an assignment, my teacher suggested that I read On the Beach by Nevil Shute. I procrastinated and so I ended up reading the thing all at once. I was caught up in the story and so affected by it. That really fueled my love of stories and reading and that love has continued throughout my entire life.
Thank you to Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings for sharing your love of reading and for your dedicated support of Reach Out and Read Kansas City for the past 20 years!
Join us on Thursday, April 20th, to enjoy cake, singing, and a special toast to the last 20 years at RORKC’s 20th Birthday Breakfast. Purchase Tickets.
As Anthony Meyer’s three sons grew older, he realized that other people, besides himself and his wife, had an influence on their lives. He saw that coaches, teachers, and others were positively impacting them and decided that he wanted to volunteer to have a similar influence on others. This led Anthony Meyer to Reach Out & Read Kansas City.
Because he worked near Children’s Mercy Hospital, he reached out to them to see how he could be involved. They recommended that he become a volunteer reader in their Pediatric Care Clinic as part of the Reach Out and Read KC program. He began reading to kids during his lunch hour and still does weekly. Meyer has read for almost 14 years and served on our Community Council for 7 years. His dedication and passion are what help make our program succeed.
When I joined him for lunch, he brought along The Cat in the Hat. He began by stating that he loved The Cat in the Hat because it is a fun and engaging story. Then he demonstrated his favorite part were Thing One and Thing Two enter and the cat asks, “Would you like to shake hands with Thing One & Thing Two?” Meyer held out his hand to shake mine, as he does with the kids he reads to in the clinic.
Meyer is a master of making stories come alive in the waiting room. Recently, he recalls reading one of his favorites, The Snow Day, to two boys, Amot and Avat. He replaced “Peter”, the main character’s name, with their own. By doing this, he personalized the story for them and they were engaged the entire time. As they left the clinic, Meyer heard them exclaim to their parent, “there he is, the man who read to us!”.
By modeling interactive and engaging reading practices for parents, he hopes that they emulate them at home. While most families do enjoy his reading (he has even had parents take pictures of him reading to their child) he does encounter parents who are not interested in watching. While this can be hard, he says that the families that do appreciate it outnumber those who don’t and it reminds him how important it is to read with kids in the clinics.
Meyer also notes that reading in the clinics not only benefits the kids but himself as well. He talks about the numerous times he’s been reading to a child, begins to laugh, and can’t stop. “I enjoy reading as much as the kids enjoy being read to,” says Meyer. It’s a great way to spend his lunch hour and part of the reason he’s been a volunteer reader for so long, he is able to help show the importance of reading while having fun. He says, “It helps the parents, helps the child and helps me too”.
Thank you, Anthony, for being an extraordinary volunteer and supporter of RORKC!
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
Last semester, four high school students became volunteer readers at our partner clinics. Once a week, these students from the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) medical program, spent their morning reading to children and surveying how they felt about reading. These students are interested in a career in the medical field and spent their semester participating in a service learning project.
The four volunteers found that a large majority of the children they read to came from primarily Spanish speaking households. This presented challenges for the group, but they realized that these children, even if they only knew some English, enjoyed sharing books with them in the waiting room.
Additionally, the CAPS students created a project to research the effects of reading on children’s well-being. They presented the children with a mood scale before and after they read to assess if reading had any impact. Overall they found that children’s mood increased after sharing a story in the clinic waiting room.
When asked about their favorite memory from volunteer reading at the clinics, they said, “being able to see all the kids’ smiles and realizing that reading can make a huge difference in their life.” Thank you Northland CAPS volunteers!
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!
2017 is Reach Out & Read Kansas City’s 20th year of providing new, developmentally appropriate books to children and important literacy advice to parents! Because we have something extra special to celebrate, we are replacing our Green Eggs & Ham event with our 20th Birthday Breakfast.
The event will occur on April 20th, 2017 from 7:30-9 am at the Uptown Theater. Coffee and registration will begin at 7am. Ample and adjacent free parking is provided.
Join us in celebrating by becoming a sponsor for the 20th Birthday Breakfast. Whether you are an individual, small business owner, or representative of a large corporation, we offer a variety of sponsorship levels and benefits. We also invite gifts made in memory or honor of someone special. View more information.
As 2016 draws to a close, we are looking back at some of our favorite memories and awesome volunteers. Because of all our supporters, Reach out and Read KC was able to accomplish new milestones and reach even more families in 2016.
Our Hooked On Books book drive collected over 24,000 books from 20 elementary schools in 2016. Here are just a few of our dedicated volunteers helping us sort books!
From February 29th through March 4th Reach Out & Read KC celebrated Dr. Seuss week! To honor the late Dr. Seuss, many local celebrities read to children in our clinic waiting rooms! Read more about this fun celebration. (from left to right: Karli Ritter & Mark Alford from Fox4 KC, and Ann Goodrich, a volunteer for RORKC)
On March 4, we held our annual Green Eggs & Ham breakfast. Here we have Bryan Busby and Neville Miller from KMBC -TV reading to some of our youngest breakfast guests. This year, because we have something extra special to celebrate in 2017, we are replacing our Green Eggs and Ham event with our 20th Birthday Breakfast! View more information about our 20th Birthday Breakfast.
Our annual Books on Tap fundraiser took place on October 19th at the 1900 Building. It was a record- setting success raising over $9,000 for Reach Out and Read KC! This translates into providing over 1,800 books and literacy advice to children in KC. For more pictures from this fun event, look through our photo album.
On December 2nd, 2016, Reach Out and Read Kansas City reached a new milestone for our program. We delivered our 1 millionth book during this four month old’s well-child visit at the University of Kansas Medical Center Pediatric Clinic.
Reach Out and Read KC recently delivered our annual report for the fiscal year 2015-2016. We had a record breaking year with RORKC providing 83,763 books to children at over 51 clinics. View the full report.
Thank you to all of our volunteers who made this year monumental for Reach Out & Read KC! Below are only a few of the many who volunteered their time to help our organization succeed.
Want to help Reach Out & Read KC continue to provide books and a foundation for success to over 29,000 children in 2017? Please consider giving a gift this holiday season.
Reach Out and Read Kansas City is in its’ 20th year of providing early literacy in pediatric care, here’s a brief look at how we got here!
By former Community Council Chair, Anne Blessing
In 1996, KU Children’s Center received a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to become one of the first 50 national expansion sites of Reach Out and Read National. Jean Harty, M.D., was hired to begin the Reach Out and Read program in Kansas City. Dr. Harty held initial conversations in 1997 with Michele Kilo, M.D., about a joint Reach Out and Read collaboration between the University of Kansas and Children’s Mercy Hospital. In 1998, Children’s Mercy Hospital officially applied to Reach Out and Read National to become a program site, following an announcement by First Lady Hillary Clinton during a visit to Kansas City. A Steering Committee comprising Kansas University Medical Center literacy advocates voted to call the collaboration KC READS (K for KUMC and C for Children’s Mercy Hospital), developed a strategic plan, goals and a budget, and asked Laura Gregory to form and chair a Community Council. Dr. Harty was hired as the Executive Director of KC READS in the summer of 1998.
On March 2, 1999, KC READS first celebrated “Read Across America” Day at its clinic sites on Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
By 2000, KC READS had opened its 13th clinic site and had become the first Reach Out and Read program in the country to partner with a school district to obtain book funding through the Kansas City, Kansas, “Reading Excellence” grant. During that same year, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation began the Kindergarten Book Bag program with KC READS as a major distributor, and the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, began a 10-year Literacy Collaboration with KC READS as a partner and beneficiary.
In 2002, the Kauffman Foundation transferred the Kindergarten Book Bag program to KC READS with a support grant. During that same year, KC READS officially changed its name to Reach Out and Read Kansas City.
In 2006, Reach Out and Read Kansas City served 20,000 children a year in 33 clinic sites in Greater Kansas City and gave its 250,000th book to a child since 1997. During that year, it trained 185 pediatric providers to counsel parents about early childhood literacy and trained 273 volunteers to read to children in clinic waiting rooms.
On Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2, 2007, Reach Out and Read Kansas City held its first annual Green Eggs and Ham fundraising breakfast with Don and Adele Hall as honorary hosts, Carol Marinovich as Master of Ceremonies and Representative Emanuel Cleaver and Bryan Busby as guest readers reading Green Eggs and Ham. For ten years, this fun and lively event was a tradition.
In 2010, Reach Out and Read Kansas City served almost 28,000 children in 46 clinic sites and distributed its 500,000th book. In 2011, it assumed organization and administration of the city-wide book drive Hooked on Books from the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, and collected more than 32,000 new and gently used books for nonprofit organizations and schools in Greater Kansas City.
By 2016, Reach Out and Read Kansas City was operating in 51 clinic sites in the metropolitan area and distributing 83,672 children new books in 27 languages to 30,000 children. Reach Out and Read gave its 1 millionth book on Dec. 2, 2016.
On April 20, 2017, Reach Out and Read KC celebrated its 20th anniversary with a Birthday Breakfast fundraising event at the Uptown Theater.
Join us on December 6th for an after-hours holiday shopping party at STUFF! From 5:30-7:00 p.m. STUFF will be open for you to find the perfect holiday gift and 15% of the evening sales will be donated to Reach Out and Read KC. Located in Brookside, STUFF specializes in artist originals, handmade gifts, fine art, artisan jewelry, small batch home and body products, indie cards, stationery & rugs. Grab some friends and come enjoy some fun holiday shopping for a great cause.
316 W 63rd St
Kansas City, MO 64113
From November 1st to December 31st, help RORKC give children the gift of literacy! Customers at the Town Center Barnes & Noble are invited to purchase an additional book for Reach Out and Read KC from a selection at the checkout. Our book coordinator chose the selection to include a variety of books for a range of ages. These brand new books will be distributed to clinics and provided to children at their well-child visits.
Towns Center Barnes & Noble
4751 West 117th Street
Leawood, KS 66211
We are turning Giving Tuesday upside down by giving you the chance to win one of two gift cards from Barnes & Noble. Between now and Nov. 28, host a gently-used book drive benefiting Reach Out and Read KC and be entered to win a $20 or $30 gift card from Barnes & Noble.
Reach Out and Read KC creates literacy-rich waiting rooms in each of our partner clinics from book donations. Schools, family gatherings like Thanksgiving, workplaces, and churches are perfect places to collect books.
To qualify for the contest, donations must be a minimum of 25 books and delivered to the RORKC office by November 28th. The two winners will be announced on Giving Tuesday, November 29th.
Guidelines for Book Drives:
New or gently used books that are clean, readable, and have intact covers
Books for young children (birth to five)
No Religious Books
No chapter or adult books
Bilingual or Spanish books
Books must be delivered to our office:
KU Med Support Services Facility
2100 W. 36th Ave, Suite 116,
Reading books together helps babies create a foundation for lifelong learning by building skills that fluent readers take for granted. Babies have to learn that there are patterns in the sounds they hear, and that these sounds make words. They have to learn that the squiggly lines in books are letters and those letters make words. They also have to learn that there is a connection between those letters they see and the sounds they hear. That’s a lot of work for a baby! However, this connection, called print awareness, is one of the most basic pre-literacy skills and is absolutely necessary before a child can learn to read.
All About Learning Press describes print awareness as “the understanding that words on a page have meaning and that they are related to spoken language,” further explaining that “As children develop print awareness, however, they begin to realize that those characters on the page are words, and that words are read in lines from left to right and lines are read from top to bottom. They learn that there are spaces between words and punctuation at the end of sentences.” Once children learn what text looks like, they are better able to recognize it in different contexts. They will be able to recognize that there are words all around them, not just on the pages of a book, but also on signs, billboards, cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, and more!
Reading aloud together is a great way for parents to get started on promoting print awareness with their child. Reach Out and Read provides books starting at birth to encourage families to read and build these vital pre-literacy skills. Still, there are many fun and effective ways to make emphasize text while reading aloud and while doing everyday activities. Here are a few ways to promote print awareness:
1. Start at the beginning. Reading Rockets suggests that you begin reading aloud by looking at the front cover and reading the names of the author and illustrator. You can also talk about the front and back of the book, and about reading from left to right.
Hold up the book and say, “This is the front of the book, (turn it sideways and state) and this is the spine.” Turn the book to the back cover and state, “This is the back of the book.” Then ask, “Do we begin reading from the front or the back of the book?” (Students should respond, “From the front.”).
2. Point to the text as you are reading. This will help distinguish that you are reading the words rather than just interpreting the pictures.
3. Talk about words you see during daily activities. Words are everywhere, and so are learning opportunities! This video has some great examples of finding words in daily activities. Mira’s mother doesn’t just point to the sign and read “melons” she also makes the connection between two M words: M for Mira and M for melon!
Read aloud every day starting at birth builds babies’ brains so that when they start kindergarten, they are ready to learn and can become strong readers. Reach Out and Read Kansas City incorporates books into pediatric care for babies ages 0-5, encouraging families to read together. This allows children gain pre-literacy skills like print awareness. To learn more about our program, visit our website. To help further our mission, consider donating to our cause.
A big thanks to all you Macy’s Cardholders who joined Macy’s Thanks For Sharing. As the result of a partnership between Macy’s and Reading is Fundamental (RIF), the Thanks for Sharing campaign raised $15 million for charities like us! This means more books for kids in our clinics. We are so grateful to Macy’s, RIF, and all who supported us in this campaign.
Thanks for Sharing will continue until December 31, so there is still time to enjoy the savings! Visit any Macy’s store to learn more.
Now through November 30th, help us give the power of reading to children who need it the most!
Land’s End has partnered with Reach out & Read National to help connect parents and children to the joy of reading books together. 20% of all net proceeds on full-priced orders will go to Reach Out & Read when you enter promo Code: REACHOUT and Pin: 8547 at checkout.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Reach Out and Read!
Our 2016 Year in Review report is here, and we are helping more families than ever. Between July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016, RORKC distributed 83,672 books. That’s over 6,000 more than the last fiscal year! To see more of what we have accomplished recently, and to hear from some of our volunteers and medical providers view the full report.
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.
The Reach Out and Read program has a huge impact on every family we serve because we are able to provide books that meet the specific needs of different families. Our clinics encounter patients who are culturally diverse and often unable to read or speak English.
For these families, we offer bilingual and foreign language books in 27 different languages from Arabic to Vietnamese at well-child visits for ages 0-5 years old. Children in these families will usually go on to attend an English-speaking school, making bilingual books especially valuable in helping them get ready for kindergarten.
Bilingual books have a number of unique benefits: They prevent language delay that some English language learners may experience, and they build vocabulary in the reader’s home language. However, the benefits of bilingual books go far beyond the measurable language effects. Here are some of the benefits of the foreign language and bilingual books that RORKC offers:
1. Bilingual books encourage parents to read in their home language. Parents who do not speak any or very much English may not be comfortable reading English-only books to their children. Being read and talked to (in any language) is important for building those pre-literacy skills so babies can be ready to learn once they start school. Strong pre-literacy skills in the child’s home language prepare their brains to learn reading or writing and improve their capacity to learn both languages. For very young children, learning a language is not the only goal: Building strong neural connections is also important.
2. Bilingual books build vocabulary in both languages. Bilingual children may have smaller vocabularies in each language than their peers (though their combined vocabulary is often the same or greater). This can become a problem once they begin school, especially since “playground language” does not expose children to concepts that they need to know for school in their second language. Bilingual books familiarize children with “academic language” in both language, preparing them to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
3. Bilingual books help children feel included. It is important for children to find themselves represented in stories and illustrations. If their family speaks a language that is not common where they live, they may begin to feel alienated. For languages like Burmese and Urdu, it can be hard to find any resources for children at all. Bilingual books and foreign language books can provide children with much-needed representations of their home language, or even their race and culture.
4. Bilingual books highlight other cultures. Bilingual books are also a wonderful way to help young children learn about and become more accepting of other cultures and people. Learning about other people can boost children’s social and emotional development.
5. Bilingual books are fun. We know reading is a lot fun. Languages can be fun too!
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.”
Reach Out and Read Kansas City needs your help restocking our bookshelves for the new school year. Last year, we provided books and literacy advice to children from birth to 5 years old at 77,792 well-child checkups. That’s 6,584 more checkups than the previous year!
Summer is always an especially busy time in our clinics as families get ready for the coming school year. Since we are serving more children than ever, our need for books has increased and our inventory is being depleted. Help us restock our shelves so that we can continue to provide brand-new, developmentally appropriate books for the nearly 30,000 children who we serve each year.
For just $10, you can provide books and literacy counseling at 2 well-child checkups. Help us reach our goal of $10,000 by September 15. That is 2,000 brand-new books and literacy counseling for children in the Kansas City area.
Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s Fall Fundraiser: Books on TAP
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
5pm – 8pm1900 Shawnee Mission ParkwayMission Woods, Kansas 66205
Tickets $25 advance, $35 at the door
RORKC invites young professionals to attend its 5th annual Books on TAP fall fundraiser on October 19, at the 1900 Building, located at the corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and State Line Road . Come together with friends -old and new- to celebrate RORKC’s mission of preparing our community’s youngest children for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. Drinks, light fare and entertainment will be provided.
Your ticket includes:
Appetizers and desserts
3 Drink coupons
1 Raffle ticket
Every year, Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides more than 83,000 new, culturally, and developmentally appropriate books and literacy advice to nearly 30,000 low-income children, birth to age 5, and their families during well-child visits at 51 partner clinics located throughout the metro. Through Reach Out and Read, each child can build a 15-book library before they enter kindergarten. For many families, these are the only books in their home. By attending Books On Tap, you are providing enough support to purchase 5 books – a full third of their 15-book library!
Reach Out and Read Kansas City is thrilled to have four new members on the Community Council!
Join us in welcoming Lisa Riojas, Monica Tiffany, and Cathy McCaddon.
Lisa Riojas, M.D. is a pediatrician and the Medical Director at RORKC’s partner clinic, Children’s Mercy Hospital West. Lisa has nearly 25 years of experience in pediatrics, serving an urban, racially diverse population. She is also a longtime advocate and practitioner of the Reach Out and Read program. Lisa shares the following about why she believes so strongly in RORKC:
I have watched countless children move through the Reach Out and Read program. The families that read consistently with their children see improved speech skills as well as school performance but there is also a stronger parent-child bond. While the improved literacy is critical for their school success, I also feel that the strong parent child bond is also a key component to that child’s ultimate success.
Monica Tiffany is the Creative Director at Merrigan & Co, specializing in developing effective communications strategy for organizations. Monica has a plenty of experience working with nonprofits, as she has written for Shriners Hospitals for Children, National Geographic, the American Red Cross, and many others. She has also been an active member of RORKC’s event planning committee. Monica shares the following about the importance of being read to:
It’s some of the most fundamental and important work we can do for kids and our culture. Also, it’s work that is close to my heart. I was lucky to have a mother who read to me—and who had her friends, sisters and parents (my grandparents) read to me. I participated in every summer reading program we knew about and it’s not stretching the truth to say reading, and what it did to my mind and my self-confidence, made me who I am today.
Cathy McCaddon is the Senior Vice President of Keybank Real Estate Capital and has 20 years of experience in real estate finance. Cathy will enter retirement soon, and she looks forward to spending more time volunteering, specifically with early childhood development. She has a great volunteer background, including her participation in The Greater Kansas City Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club: She was named Pi Phi of the year in 2015. Cathy shares the following about why she looks forward to supporting RORKC:
I would like to give something back to our community and I believe that our future lies in the education of our youth.
Gharib Gharibi is a Ph.D. student and instructor in Computer Science at UMKC, and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He has been an active volunteer for multiple organizations, including Harvesters, Operation Breakthrough, and Reach Out and Read KC. Gharib shares the following about his dedication to education:
I was raised in a culture that praises helping, giving to others, and sharing. Specifically, we believe in giving , unconditionally, to those who are in need. The most noble form of giving is teaching, because education is the ultimate way to improve ourselves, our nation, and the human race.
Dine at select 39th and Rainbow Blvd restaurants during the month of July and RORKC will receive a portion of the proceeds. Eateries include Five Guys Burgers and Fries, topp’d pizza and salads, IHOP, Subway, and Pita Pit (to open in late July).
Also, bring your new or gently used book donations to the 39th and Rainbow Holiday Inn Express lobby for our month-long book drive!
Thank you to LANE4 property group and Page Communications, as well as our neighbors at 39Rainbow for making this happen!
Summer has officially begun, and that means we get to experience the many joys of the season: Warm weather, ice cream, and many reading opportunities for the whole family. For young children (0-5years), summer can mean fun activities that make sticking to reading routines difficult. For school-aged children, summer break can result in summer slide—learning setbacks that result from time away from the classroom. Encouraging children to read through the summer can put them at an advantage for the rest of the year, and there are many ways to overcome the challenges of summer reading. Here are some tips for for keeping your little ones reading through the summer:
1. Let your child choose what to read. From our friends at First Book: “Kids will always be more excited about reading, if they can choose what to read,” says Stephanie Phelix, Library Media Specialist at Belle Forest Community School in Memphis, TN.
If you are having trouble coming up with summer reading ideas, check out these picture books about summer.
2. Sign up for a summer reading program. Many local libraries provide incentives for children who meet reading goals, and programs are available for very young ages. Some KC area libraries with summer reading programs are:
If you can’t make it out to the library, Scholastic offers an online summer reading program as well.
3. Incorporate reading into other fun summer activities. You know that hour between eating and jumping in the pool? Perfect time to read! RIF suggests some other ways to have fun reading, such as having a “book-nic” or a combined picnic and story time.
KC area libraries are a great resource for free or inexpensive summer reading resources, events, and story times. However, home libraries are also important for developing young readers’ literacy skills. To help us provide books to KC’s youngest children through the summer and all year, consider donating to RORKC.
Enjoy your summer reading!
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.
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 she recently gave a two-part presentation called “Parent Talk” about why it is important to engage in frequent, high-quality talk with young children. Her presentations were so informative and well-received that we would like to share that same message with you!
Babies love to hear your voices. While in the womb, they heard your voices, as well as those who were around you! A fascinating study had women read to their babies before the birth. After the birth, babies listened to recordings of their mother and recordings of a stranger reading the same story – they were much more interested in listening to the story recorded by their mothers, a familiar sound!
For children to learn to talk, they have to hear lots and lots of talking. The first 3 years of life are the MOST sensitive for development of later language skills. If babies do not hear lots of conversation, they lose an opportunity for developing strong connections in the brain that help them to communicate. When you talk to your baby, connections between neurons are formed that will help them learn to speak. Research tells us that the more words children hear between birth and three, the more words they know at 18 months of age and at 3 years of age. Sharing a book with your child is one way to get these conversations going!
The way we talk to young children influences how they think about themselves, how they learn to regulate their behavior, and their willingness to try hard, and keep trying when learning new skills. For example, in the grocery store – one could tell that running child to “Stop, behave, you know you’re not supposed to run” or, one could say – “hey stop running and come help Mommy find the red apples that you like so much – let’s see if you can put four of them in the bag! Thank you for being a good helper”. In the first example, the child is chastised for unacceptable behavior, but doesn’t learn what might be acceptable. In the second example the child is told what they are not to do, but also told what they can do, and further are given an opportunity to learn about color, and counting and helping.
Another example – the preschooler is working on putting a puzzle together – it’s hard for her to find the right spot for some of the pieces. In one scenario, her caregiver shows her exactly where it goes, she puts it here and is told “great job”. The child is pleased to have the help, and continues to look for that help. An alternative scenario, is that the caregiver suggests puzzle skills – look at the pieces with smooth edges, and see which ones will go together, or think about matching colors on the different pieces. The caregiver encourages the child to keep trying different pieces until she finds the right ones. Praise is given for trying again and again, rather than for being successful! In the second scenario, the child has learned a lot more – about puzzle making, but more importantly about not giving up when things seem too hard.
Dana Suskind’s book, Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain, has lots of great ideas to think about when being in conversation with your children. She presents the research that explains importance of being in conversation with children in an easy to read and understand way, and reminds us of the impact that our conversations can have on children, both negative and positive.
Bottom line, words matter, and the more words a child hears, the more prepared they are to communicate and to learn as toddlers, kindergarteners and adults!
So, go talk to your baby – watch how she reacts to your voice, to your singing. Even though she won’t talk back with words for many months, she talks back with her eyes and her expressions to let you know that she is definitely listening and learning.
Attendees at the 10th Annual Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast are also authors!
Check out their rhymes in this online book:
The right book at the right time in a young child’s life is key for their development and keeping their interest. Little ones get bored with books that are “too young” for them and can get discouraged by books that are too advanced. At Reach Out and Read Kansas City, we make sure that every child receives a book that is the best fit for them developmentally at each one of their 14 regularly scheduled well-child checkups. We stock over 200 titles in order to offer many different choices for different age groups, and there are a number of factors to consider when we choose books for each group.
New babies, from birth to 4 months, are still working on developing their senses and motor skills, so they enjoy putting things in their mouth to experience them. Starting out, their eyesight is very undeveloped but grows stronger, as demonstrated on the infant vision simulator card presented here. While family members often hold babies closer than the distance designated on the simulator, this gives us some idea about how baby sees the world that they are newly experiencing.
At this age, black and white are easier for them to see clearly, so they find high-contrast board books or cloth books most stimulating (and harder to destroy). For these reasons, we offer book choices such as “Hello Baby” and “Black and White Nighty Night” to infants 2-4 months old. Little ones in this age group are also quickly improving their ability to recognize faces, and at 6 months, can already recognize faces better than they recognize objects. With that in mind, we offer plenty of book choices with lots of faces to look at.
Our volunteer reader, Brenda, recently used the book “Baby Faces: Smile!” to engage a family with a 4-month old baby at our Cockerell & McIntosh site. She moved the book slowly from left to right and watched the baby track the pictures with his eyes, and then he broke into a smile (just like the baby in the book!)
Brenda also gave the family a little information about how reading to very young children helps their brains develop so they are better prepared to learn in school. The parents were very excited to see the baby interact with the book by tracking it and smiling! As they understood that their interactions really were beneficial to their little one, they continued to interact with their baby and book through their stay in the waiting room.
As children grow older, they start to recognize and name objects and are learning concepts like numbers and opposites. Between 1 and 2 years of age, children can choose books about counting or opposites, or they can choose a book that asks them what different objects are, such as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” By age 3, kiddos are ready for books with a story, such as Mother Goose tales.
At 4 years, it’s time for a special well-child visit! By this age, children are getting ready to start school and Reach Out and Read is ready to help by giving them a kindergarten book bag including their “Countdown to the First Day of School” book, a kindergarten readiness checklist for parents, and some other preparatory materials.
Thanks to Janice Dobbs, our dedicated book coordinator of nearly 15 years, the Reach Out and Read KC team is experienced at and devoted to providing the most developmentally-appropriate book for every age. Equally as important, we also strive to provide the children we serve with books that are a good fit for them in other ways as well. Many families visiting our partner clinics do not speak English as their first language, so we offer bilingual books in 27 different languages (from Arabic to Vietnamese!) and our medical providers make sure to talk to each family about the importance of sharing books with their young children. By offering the best book choices to every child served by our clinics, we make sure the Reach Out and Read program has the greatest impact possible. Having access at home to the right book at the right time means a child is more likely to want to return to that book again and again, and will begin their lives learning a love of books and reading that will last through their school years and beyond.
Volunteers are vital to Reach Out and Read KC’s success. With an in-office staff of only four, it is no surprise that RORKC relies heavily on volunteer work and donations. Our volunteer force is over 100 people, and growing. Last year, these ROR superstars clocked 4347 hours of work. This is equivalent to $102,415.12 of volunteer labor (according to Independent Sector’s estimate of the value of volunteer time). This is a significant amount for which we could not be more grateful. Still, these numbers only reflect part of the effect our volunteers have on our program and on the community. The work they do is varied in valuable in ways that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. So let’s take a closer look at some of their work:
Our regular volunteers include clinic volunteers and office volunteers.
Volunteer readers assist clinics in creating a literacy-rich waiting room environment by sharing stories with children waiting for their doctor’s appointments. This models behaviors for families, like dialogic reading, and gives the kiddos something fun and positive to do while waiting (and it gives the parents/caretakers a short break!). This work isn’t just nice: It is one of many ways to encourage children to read, and this behavior is absolutely critical to their development.
Office volunteers do various tasks as-needed, including stuffing and stamping envelopes for mailings, putting stickers on books (to color-code them for specific age groups), and database entry.
One-time volunteers assist us with office tasks as well, often sorting or labeling books. Groups from various community organizations or corporations visit our office to help us get through the large number of books that come through our office on their way to one of our 52 clinics.
Event volunteers allow us to hold successful annual fundraisers and book drives. Last March, we had volunteers sort and haul over 24,000 books from our yearly Hooked on Books school book drive and competition. These books are used as waiting-room books in our clinics, and over half of the books were donated to other local agencies and schools. Volunteers also set up and cleaned up after our Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, and directed attendees to the event space.
Committee volunteers share their professional expertise and help us successfully run our program. This involves event planning, serving on our council, and much more.
Because of our volunteers, we are able to fill KC kids’ lives with stories and prepare them for success in school, and eventually in college and careers. These books give them the developmental boost that all babies need as well as fond memories of imaginative stories shared with loved ones. Because of our volunteers, we were able to reach 76,000 children all over the Kansas City area just last year. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for RORKC, contact Jenny.
This year’s Hooked On Books Challenge collected more than 24,000 gently used books to be redistributed to kids who need them throughout our community. 19 area schools participated in the annual book drive during January and February. All the books were sorted and distributed in March. Almost 10,000 books went to waiting rooms in Reach Out and Read’s 52 partner clinics. The rest were distributed to local agencies including W.E.B. Dubois Learning Center, The Urban Scholastic Center, The Upper Room, Literacy Kansas City, and several schools in KCK.
41 volunteers joined us over two Saturdays in March to sort 250+ boxes of books by age/reading level, repackage them, and load them onto pallets and trucks for distribution. A special thank you to the Junior League of Kansas City for their help with collection and sorting; to the Kansas City Star for printing and storage; and to Vanguard Packaging for providing boxes. Thanks also to Serve KC, Cerner, and our all of our wonderful community volunteers for donating your time and muscle!
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!
On February 25, the Greater Kansas City Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi donated 1,901 books to RORKC as part of a 20,000 book grant from First Book. The Pi Phis have divided these books up and donated them to several local organizations. The organizations are listed in this video.
The donation to Reach Out and Read KC includes books for well-child visits, volunteer readers’ book bags, and clinic waiting rooms. Thank you Pi Phi alumnae for your donation and your continued support over the years.
We had a fantastic time at the 10th Annual Green Eggs & Ham breakfast. Over 300 people attended, and we raised $70,000 and counting. That’s 14,000 books that kids in the Kansas City area will receive at our clinics! If you missed the opportunity to contribute, it is not too late: Donate here.
We also heard a wonderful keynote speech from Dr. Dipesh Navsaria. Access the presentation slides here.
Thanks again to our top level sponsors: The Walsh Family and Kelly Family Foundations in honor of Betty Keith; Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings in honor of Mary Jo Williams; Hallmark Cards, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; and to all other sponsors, table hosts and supporters. Because of you, Green Eggs & Ham 2016 was a huge success and tons of fun.
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.
Happy 112th Birthday Dr. Seuss!
To celebrate the life and literary accomplishments of Dr. Seuss, Reach Out and Read KC had a number of local celebrities read in our clinics.
Thank you to all our special readers, our amazing clinics, and to our volunteer readers who help us celebrate reading aloud every day!
You are invited to Reach Out and Read night at California Pizza Kitchen on Tuesday, March 1st from 4:30-9:30pm. Not only will there be many kinds of delicious pizza, but a percentage of the proceeds will benefit Reach Out and Read KC. Join us for dinner or order take out or catering for the evening while supporting RORKC. We hope to see you there!
Address: 11655 Ash Street, Leawood, Kansas 66211
We are delighted to have Dr. Dipesh Navsaria as our keynote speaker for the 10th Annual Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast on March 4th. Tickets to the event are available now.
Dr. Navsaria is the Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. He is a pediatrician with experience as a children’s librarian, a professor of pediatrics, and an advocate for children’s health. Dr. Navsaria also has more degrees than a thermometer and wears really excellent bow ties.
Last year, Dr. Navsaria and Dr. Amy Shriver co-authored a report titled “The Elephant in the Clinic,” describing the Reach Out and Read program’s various benefits. At this year’s Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast, Dr. Navsaria will speak about this report. It is sure to be fun and informative, so you won’t want to miss it! Reserve your seat now:
(Photo credits: Sarah Rose Smiley, www.schaharazad.carbonmade.com)
Hooked On Books collection day is Tuesday, February 23, from 9am-2pm. We are looking for volunteers with strong backs for lifting boxes of books and large vehicles for transporting them (up to 20 copypaper sized boxes at a time.) Volunteers will be assigned to pick up books at schools located throughout greater KC (from DeSoto to the West, Overland Park to the South, Raymore to the East, and Smithville to the North,) and deliver them to the KC Star loading dock in the Crossroads.
We also need help on Saturday, March 12 from 9am-3pm and Saturday, March 19 9am-noon at the KC Star when we label, sort, and pack up our “Hooked on Books” books.
February 14th is not just a day to give candy and flowers to your loved ones–it is also a day focused on encouraging people worldwide to give books to children. International Book Giving Day started as a joint effort between book-lovers in the US and UK in 2012, and it has spread worldwide since then. This year, all of us at Reach Out and Read KC want to make a special effort to celebrate this day, and need your help! Here are three ways you can enjoy International Book Giving Day:
Read a book with your loved ones. Set aside some time to relax and get comfy with a good book to share with your favorite kiddos. Let us know which book you shared by tweeting us @rorkc!
Donate to Reach Out and Read KC and we will do the work for you! We will use your donation to order and deliver age-appropriate books for children who visit our clinics for well-child check-ups. Click here to donate, and enter “International book giving day” in the special instructions section. $60 will provide a whole course of books for one child–that’s 15 books!
The benefits of reading to children are numerous, and we appreciate any and all the work you do to bring about these benefits. We hope you find some time to read and enjoy this year’s International Book Giving Day!
The 10th Annual Green Eggs and Ham breakfast to benefit Reach Out and Read KC is coming up on Friday, March 4 from 7:30-9am. This is our biggest event of the year! Tickets are on sale now for $60 each, and the last day to get your ticket is February 26.
With contributions from generous individuals and organizations, income from past years’ events have provided as much as ¼ of the organization’s annual income and allowed us annually to deliver over 76,000 new developmentally appropriate children’s books to nearly 30,000 children between the ages of 0 and 5 years old, along with prescriptive early learning advice to parents at 71,000+ well child visits in our 52 partner clinics located throughout greater Kansas City. In addition to supporting a fantastic cause, this breakfast is a lot of fun! Check out this year’s lineup:
Keynote Speaker Guest Reader Guest Reader Master of Ceremonies Dipesh Navsaria Bryan Busby Neville Miller John Holt Medical Director,
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin
KMBC-TV KMBC-TV FOX-4 TV
Honorary Hosts: David Oliver, Cemal Gungor, Richard Hu, and John Minnis
Complimentary parking is provided, and a map of the location can be found here. Registration and coffee begins at 7:00am. We look forward to seeing you there!
Hooked on Books is back for 2016!
Between January 11 and February 19, schools throughout the metropolitan area will collect new and gently used books for disadvantaged children ages newborn to 14. The books will then be redistributed to schools and other nonprofit organizations.
All students at participating schools receive a bookmark and coupon for a free kids pizza at California Pizza Kitchen, and the winning classroom is entered into a drawing to win a pizza party from CPK, along with bragging rights, and a $500 gift certificate from Scholastic Books! Winners will be announced at our annual Green Eggs and Ham breakfast on March 4.
There is still the chance to get involved! If you would like to volunteer as a school liaison, contact Jenny at Jhorsley@kumc.edu. For nonprofit organizations and schools serving at-risk children, apply to be a book recipient. For further information, visit our event page.
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.