Tag Archives: books

IMG_0690

Hooked On Books Challenge 2017 Was a Huge Success!

IMG_0666This 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Cerner Sat 4-2. 5

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary: Meet Your Honorary Hosts

pamela and michael. png

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.

Anthony Meyer

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary: An Interview with Anthony Meyer

Anthony MeyerAs 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!

 

 

Join our Community Council

Join our Community Council

community council

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

blog post about CAPS

CAPS Students Volunteer Reading Project

blog post about CAPS

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.  mood scale CAPS blog post

 

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!

 

 

 

20th Birthday Breakfast Blog

Sponsorships Available for RORKC 20th Birthday Breakfast!

20th Birthday blog post image

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.

possible bliog

Reach Out & Read KC’S 2016: Year in Review

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.

 

blog post HOB

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

collage

 

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)

 

 

 

 

geh break

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TK2_7625

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blgo

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 YIRsquarerecently 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.

 

possible bliog

 

 

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.

blog Reach Out & Read

Reach Out & Read KC’s 20 Year Highlights

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.

 

Cute Boy w Bag of BooksBy 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 birthdrading of GEHay, 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.

 

history blog post

 

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 will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a Birthday Breakfast fundraising event at the Uptown Theater. Individual tickets go on sale in February. Sponsorship opportunities are available now.

holiday book drive

Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive

holiday book driveFrom 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.

 

Location:

Towns Center Barnes & Noble

4751 West 117th Street

Leawood, KS 66211

Google Map

 

November Book Drive

Give Books, Win Books: Hold a Giving Tuesday Book Drive

Reid Waldman 7-2016 (1)

 

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.

 

If you are unable to host a book drive, please consider participating in our virtual book drive or make a donation. 

 

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

 

Recommendations:

Picture Books

Bilingual or Spanish books

Board Books

 

Books must be delivered to our office:

KU Med Support Services Facility

2100 W. 36th Ave, Suite 116,

Google Map

Monday-Friday, 8:30-3

 

GSWB_CBD_04

Choosing the Best Book for KC Kids

Infant Vision Simulator Card

 

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.

 

5899 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.

Cute Boy w Bag of Books

 

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.

 

 

IMG_6314

KC Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Donate Books

IMG_6314

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.

2016-blogbadge

International Book Giving Day

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:

ibgd2016poster

 

 

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!

 

 

Print free bookmarks and bookplates from the International Book Giving Day website.

 

 

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!

 

 

Hooked on Books Mouse Logo jpg

Hooked on Books 2016 is Underway!

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.

click

Our Parents Report Success

Results from our 2015 annual survey of parents have been tallied and we have good news to share! Of the 1090 families reporting between late August and late October, 99% of families said they received a book at their child’s well-child visit,  94% remember receiving literacy advice from their medical provider, and 83% of parents with children between 6 months and 5 years old say that they read to their children three or more times per week.

 

Statistics tell us how many books we provide to children, but this self-reporting from parents is true confirmation that we are fulfilling our mission of preparing Kansas City’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
click

First Book Pick Up by Jenny 9-2015 (compressed)

Free Books from First Books

We are so grateful to First Book, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing equal access to literacy and educational opportunities for children in need, for supplying for free over 500,000 new children’s books to organizations in Kansas City this September. RORKC received 1780 new books for use in our well-child checkups and waiting rooms. Janice and Jenny, our tireless and talented book coordinator and volunteer manager, lined up with representatives of dozens of other local agencies to receive these fabulous free books for our kiddos. Thanks also to our wonderful friends at Turn the Page KC and LINC for organizing this event to benefit our community of young readers.

First Book Pick Up by Jenny 9-2015 (compressed)

committee group photo

‘Books On Tap’ Record Breaking Success

You did it! Because of amazing volunteers and supporters like you, a new fundraising record was set for our ‘Books On Tap’ special event (formerly known as Books and Brews.) Through generous sponsorships, donated event space from the Kansas City Public Library, and amazing food, drinks, and raffle items contributed by dozens of local businesses – not to mention ticket sales to over 200 attendees – you came together and raised over $7,600 to support Reach Out and Read KC. That means over 1500 new books can be purchased and delivered through this truly volunteer led event. We thank Tingle Flooring, Henderson Engineers, and TranSystems for sponsoring the event, but most of all we give high-fives, handshakes, and hugs to committee co-chairs Liz Megli and Kayla Boal and to the entire outstanding committee!

committee group photo

Pathfinders Elem Book Drive 9-2015 (compressed)

Pathfinder Elementary Kids Helping Kids

Students and teachers at Pathfinder Elementary in Platte County celebrated International Literacy Day on September 8 by dressing as their favorite book characters and started the day with a building-wide D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) time. Coinciding with the event, Student Ambassadors organized a service project and collected 344 new and gently used books for Reach Out and Read Kansas City. Thank you, students, and an extra special thanks to Jamie Davis, Reading Specialist at Pathfinder Elementary, for suggesting RORKC to benefit from your school’s book drive. Your generosity has helped stock our clinic waiting rooms and made some other children very happy.  Pathfinders Elem Book Drive 9-2015 (compressed)

library & Museum 2015

Library and Museum Partnership

Reach Out and Read national recently announced the launch of the Prescription for Success Toolkit, to support collaborations between libraries, museums, and ROR program sites – natural partners that have a collective impact on the lives of young children.

Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this pilot project aims to help families benefit from museum and library services that foster literacy development in young children. As a national nonprofit organization comprised of doctors, who promote early childhood literacy, Reach Out and Read has deep and broad relationships within the medical community. Prescription for Success has leveraged these connections to explore new ways doctors and their staffs can collaborate with museums and libraries.

Encouraging families to use libraries and museums extends the impact of the ROR program, giving them opportunities to share books and spend time enjoying library and museum activities. Likewise, library and museum staff reinforce our message that engaging with young children through reading and playing together helps foster healthy brain development.  Read more

library & Museum 2015

baby pic

Hall Family Foundation grant funds new book at 1 month checkup

We are excited to announce the award of $25,000 from the Hall Family Foundation to fund for two years the purchase and distribution of a new book at the one month well child checkup.

Providers at our 51 partner clinics see up to 7000 children between birth and 4-months-old each year. Adding a new book at one month provides consistency in the prescriptive message and delivery of our program and extends the library of new books provided by RORKC to a total of 15.

The book selected to launch this program, Sleep Baby Safe and Snug, was created by Charlie’s Kids Foundation for Safe Sleep to reinforce the message of safe sleep habits to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is available in both Spanish and English.

1 month book

BBS2015-logo w ROR info

Kansas City Area Macy’s — Reading is Fundamental — Reach Out and Read- KC

What do these three organization have in common? The answer: PROVIDING NEW BOOKS FOR KIDS!  Now through July 12th, Macy’s is hosting their annual “Be Book Smart” campaign. The program allows shoppers to spend $3 on a coupon worth $10 off their purchase of $30 or more and can be used immediately. Talk about a WIN-WIN! The $3 goes to Reading is Fundamental who then credits the full amount to Reach Out and Read for the purchase of new books for our early literacy program in KC.  Last year alone we received and distributed more than 3000 books through this program, made successful by wonderful supporters like you.

So get out there and shop at your local Macy’s!  There are 6 locations in the Kansas City metro area: Leawood Town Center, Oak Park Mall, Prairie Village, Summit Fair in Lee’s Summit, Metro North, and Independence Center.

BBS2015-logo w ROR info

blog7

Macy’s campaign benefits RIF & ROR-KC

Once again RIF has partnered with Macy’s to create Be Book Smart, a national partnership to raise awareness and support of children’s literacy. The effort helps RIF provide free books and literacy resources to children nationwide, and Reach Out and Read KC is fortunate to be the program’s local recipient.

Between June 21 –July 12, 2015, shoppers at any of the Greater Kansas City area Macy’s can give $3 to provide a book for a child in need and receive a coupon for $10 off a $30 in-store purchase at any Macy’s nationwide. The discount can be applied on purchases made that day or in the future. Macy’s will give 100% of every $3 to RIF. New this year, in addition to the $10 off $30 discount, Macy’s will also offer 20% off a future purchase.

This year’s campaign has a special focus on summer reading. Research shows that reading books during the summer is the most effective way for a child to maintain and even improve their literacy skills. Each coupon sold during the campaign provides a book for a child and just as important, the spark to keep them reading during the school year and all summer long.

Cheptoo

Meet Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner

“Any child in this world cannot succeed without reading and I think parents have to understand that they’re the ones that are capable and have the ability to open the doors for their children.”

 
Meet the inspiring Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, one of two special guest readers for the 9th Annual Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast, in this video interview as she shares her beliefs on early literacy and the vital importance of reading.  Buy tickets now!

 

kids-reading-3

We Asked, You Answered; Your Dollars at Work

Last December we sent up the bat signal asking for your help in our end-of-the-year appeal. Like the super heroes you are, you answered our call and we were overwhelmed by your response. We are so thankful for your dedication and continued support which allows us to ensure Kansas City children are prepared to enter school ready to succeed.Over the last several weeks, you have contributed nearly $5500! 

This means 1100 new books and early literacy advice will be reaching the hands of local children. Wow!

 

We would like to give special recognition to two outstanding contributors for their donation of $1000 each, which single-handedly will provide 400 children with new books and early literacy advice! Thank you Kris & Frank Cappo and Baby & Child Associates for your generosity. We are so grateful to everyone that has contributed, allowing us to impact the lives of community children.

 

Super Hero Contributors:

Bethene Gregg                                            Joy Winter                                            Sally Clark
Brenda Pfannenstiel                                    Larry A. Rues                                       Stephanie & Richard Grinage
Brian & Sarah Bracco                                  Lavonne Ridder                                    Sue Von Geyso
Bryce Dickmeyer                                         Lisa Riojas                                            Susan Conner
Carolyn & Ken Sabatini                               Lynn Hardy                                           Suzanne & Paul Koontz
Cynthia & Michael Fry                                 Marny & John Sherman                        Sylvan & Merna Siegler
Don & Luella Farmer                                   Mary Brink                                            Sylvia Coles
Esther Sunderland                                      Maureen & Bill Berkley                         Tasanaporn Pitiyanuvath
Jean Hiersteiner                                          Nancy Spangler                                    W. Mitchell & Dorothy Elliott
Jill & Brannan Riffel                                     Pam & Greg Shaw
Jo E Denton                                                Roger Lambson & Victoria Thomas

Meet the Speakers

Green Eggs & Ham Speakers Announced

The 9th Annual Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast benefiting Reach Out and Read Kansas City is quickly approaching, Friday, March 6th, 7:30-9:00am at the Sheraton Crown Center Exhibit Hall. In addition to being a lot of fun, this is a hugely important event for us. Last year, your support provided a fourth of our annual budget and helped us provide 76,495 new books and prescriptive early literacy advice to 29,836 at-risk children and families.

 

Tickets are on sale now and going fast – get yours todayIndividual tickets starting at $60, must be purchased by Friday, February 27th. Register to sponsor a table or make a tax-deductible donation here

 

We are thrilled to announce this year’s speakers, entertainment, and guests:

 

Keynote Speaker Guest Reader Guest Reader Master of Ceremonies
David Warm Bryan Busby Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner John Holt
Executive Director,
Mid-America Regional Council
KMBC-TV Deputy Executive Director,
Kansas City Public Library
FOX-4 TV

 

Complimentary parking is provided. Registration and coffee service will begin at 7:00. As you arrive enjoy musical entertainment from students of St. Teresa’s Academy and Rockhurst High School. Rumor has it Cat and Fish from The Coterie’s upcoming production of “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat” will also be making a special appearance.

 

Come join the party, and do a good deed. Books at home help kids to succeed! 

 

For more information please contact Executive Director Mark Mattison at 913-588-3073 or mmattison@kumc.edu.

Executive Director, Mark Mattison

Giving Thanks, Giving Literacy

Executive Director, Mark Mattison

Executive Director, Mark Mattison, in ROR-KC book processing room

Everyone knows the holidays are a time for thanks giving and for giving back. As I reflect on the past year, I am so very grateful to have been entrusted with this wonderful opportunity to spend every day giving back alongside the mighty staff of five, 46 clinic partners, and over 200 active volunteers of Reach Out and Read Kansas City. Also, I am thankful to you, for your past support and ongoing commitment to helping ensure every child in Kansas City will enter school ready to learn.

 

Since coming on board as Executive Director in September, I have been challenged, inspired, and ever-so-honored to play a part in the important work we do and the contributions we make to improve the lives of children. Not only do I hear it every day in testimonials from our volunteers and clinic staff, in a recent Parent Survey 98% of our families reported getting a book at their child’s well-child visit, 95% of families reported getting literacy advice, and, as a result, 82% of families reported reading to their children three or more times per week!

 

Reach Out and Read Kansas City Medical Director, Sallie Page-Goertz, during a well-child visit with four month old Katie.

ROR-KC Medical Director, Sallie Page-Goertz, during well-child visit with four month old Katie

As you take a moment to give thanks this holiday season, I invite you to share your good fortune by also giving the gift of literacy – truly a gift that keeps on giving. A donation of just $60 to Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides a child with their own starter library, a new book received at each well-child visit from birth to 5 years old.

 

Your gift will spark the joy of learning in thousands of children throughout Greater Kansas City. Thanks to you and other advocates, in the next twelve months medical providers will meet with parents over 72,000 times to prescribe the importance of sharing books with their children. 30,000 children will take home a brand new age, language, and culturally appropriate book from their well-child pediatric appointment. And volunteers trained and provided by Reach Out and Read Kansas City will model book sharing skills as they read to children in clinic waiting rooms.

 

Research confirms that parents who receive literacy counseling from their health care providers, according to the Reach Out and Read model, are more likely to read to their young children, read more often, and have more children’s books in their homes. Over 70% of the children who visit Reach Out and Read Kansas City clinics come from low income families, and many of these families are struggling just to cover the basic necessities of food, rent, utilities, and transportation. They wish they could provide books for their children but their hard earned paycheck just doesn’t stretch that far. With your gift, Reach Out and Read Kansas City can help these children start the first day of kindergarten having experienced the joy of owning their own book, ready to read and learn.

 

Best wishes and Happy Holidays,

Mark Mattison
Executive Director

Hooked on Books Mouse Logo jpg

Hooked on Books Is Back

Hooked on Books Mouse Logo jpgImagine growing up and not having a book to call your own. That’s the reality for many children in the Kansas City area. Our local schools, however, are helping change that by joining our 2015 Hooked on Books School Challenge.

 

Between January 12th and February 27th, schools throughout the metropolitan area will collect new and gently used books for disadvantaged children ages newborn to 14. “Many children, as well as adults, take owning a book for granted,” says Nancy Fuller, Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s Hooked on Books Chair. “The drive is a fun, simple way for children to help children and to raise greater awareness about literacy in our community.”

 

It’s easy to get involved. Complete an online application to be a school participant in the challenge. Donate your time and register to be a Hooked on Books volunteer. For nonprofit organizations and schools serving at-risk children, apply to be a book recipient. For further information, visit our event page or contact Nancy Fuller, Hooked on Books Chair, at 913-940-8219.

 
The school that collects the most books per student within the designated time period will be recognized at our 9th Annual Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast on March 6th. In addition, the winning school will be awarded a $500 Scholastic Books gift certificate and an assembly celebrating their accomplishment. The biggest winners of all, however, are the disadvantaged children. Without your school’s participation, they may not realize the joy of having a book to call their own.

 

“I think both Hooked on Books and Reach Out and Read Kansas City are key players in improving literacy and access to books for some of the neediest children in Kansas City,” says Fuller. In fact, over the past 15 years, nearly 795,000 books have been collected through the school challenge and distributed to agencies and schools serving lower-income families.

dad reading to daughter

Parent Surveys Confirm Program Success

Results from our annual survey to parents have been tallied and we have good news to report! Of the 1085 families reporting between late August and late October, 98% of families said they received a book at their child’s well-child visit,  95% remember receiving literacy advice from their medical provider, and 82% say that they read to their children three or more times per week! Purchasing, delivery, and inventory statistics tell us how many books we provide to children by way of our clinic partners, but this self-reporting from parents is true confirmation that we are fulfilling our mission of preparing Kansas City’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.

 
We would like to take this opportunity to show our gratitude for the clinics that are excelling in our program. At the following sites 100% of families surveyed reported reading to their children three or more times a week:

 

Brookside Family Medical Group Leavenworth County Health Department
Platte County Health Department Southwest Boulevard Family Care
Swope Central

 

At the following sites, 100% of families reported receiving early literacy advice from their medical providers:

 

Argentine Family Care Brookside Family Medical Group Grain Valley Family Medical Care
Heartland Primary Care Hope Family Care Jackson County Health Department
KU Silver City Clinic Swope Independence Leavenworth County Health Department
Platte County Health Department Samuel Rodgers Health Center Samuel Rodgers Northland Health Center
Swope West TMC – Center for Family Health Turner House Children’s Clinic

 

We want to be sure all of our families receive literacy advice and a book. This survey shows that we are doing well—almost all of our families are getting advice and books and this is translating into a high percentage of families sharing books with their children three or more times per week. Thank you to all our supporters and especially to our providers for making early literacy a critical aspect of your pediatric practice!

Publication3

2013-2014 National Annual Report

Publication2

We’re thrilled to share our  2013-2014 National Annual Report. 25 years ago doctors created Reach Out and Read in one exam room, in one hospital, and in one city. Today, it has grown to impact 4 million children with 5000 sites in all 50 states.

 

Here’s a short recap of our 2013-2014 year:

-Received David M. Rubenstein Award from Library of Congress in recognition of our groundbreaking work to advance early literacy
-Received a 1 million book donation from Scholastic
-Attended Clinton Global Initiative America meeting, made new commitments with Too Small to Fail, AAP, and Scholastic

 

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out and celebrate an amazing year (and 25-year journey in early literacy) with us. Thank you for your continual support and partnership!

Publication3

Reach Out and Read on The Today Show

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 The Today Show: “Hope To It”

 

Our national chapter of Reach Out and Read was  featured on The Today Show! It was an incredible piece about Dr. Carolyn Boone, one of Reach Out and Read’s pediatricians that serves in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Boone and her story were featured as part of Today’s “Hope To It” series, which highlights people who have overcome adversity and are now giving back in their lives.

 

Dr. Carolyn Boone is more than just a pediatrician of 30+ years. She is also a mentor, a teacher, and a part of the families of the patients she serves.  As part of her involvement in the Reach Out and Read program, she starts each appointment with a book, understanding the vital importance of reading. Dr. Boone was a child of teenage pregnancy, raised by a foster mother on a small farm without much, but she did have books — and the message to pass along her love of reading to others throughout her life.

 

She became a doctor, dedicating her life to low-income families and adopting an holistic approach to medicine. “Books are just as important as an immunization,” says Dr. Boone, noting that books make sure the brain develops properly and are a way for parents to interact and talk with their children. Every day she promotes literacy and offers hope to the families she serves. The piece truly captures the power of Reach Out and Read, and how together through reading, we are changing lives, families, and futures.

 

If the video does not work, watch the piece here.

Hil Clinton

Literacy Toolkit for Pediatricians and Parents Unveiled by Hilary Clinton

booksbuildconnectionstoolkit_withtag_800w“Fewer than half of children younger than 5 years old are read to daily in our country. For 25 years, programs such as Reach Out and Read have been promoting literacy in exam rooms nationwide, and now, even more pediatricians are taking a stand…”

 

The former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, released a new literacy toolkit titled Books Build Connections at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego on October 12th. Clinton and the AAP have partnered to create this early literacy toolkit written by pediatricians for pediatricians to help them discuss with parents and caregivers the importance of early literacy in brain development.

 

In a press release issued by the AAP, it is noted that “in June 2014, [we] announced a collaborative partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Next Generation. The organizations have committed to promote early literacy and ensure that doctors, parents and caregivers have the information, tools and books they need to promote talking, reading out loud and singing to children every day starting in infancy.”

 

The president of the AAP, James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, said, “Fewer than half of children younger than 5 years old are read to daily in our country. For 25 years, programs such as Reach Out and Read have been promoting literacy in exam rooms nationwide, and now, even more pediatricians are taking a stand to spread the news more widely through our recent policy, toolkit and partnership with Too Small to Fail. Talking, reading and singing with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships, foster early language skills and promote children’s development.”

 

Furthermore, as part of the partnership with Too Small to Fail and AAP, Scholastic, Inc. agreed to donate 500,000 new, age-appropriate children’s books for distribution through Reach Out and Read National, working with 20,000 medical providers nationwide to promote early reading and giving books to 4 million children and their families annually at pediatric visits.

 

The Books Build Connections toolkit, available online at www.aap.org/literacy, incorporates recommendations to emphasize early literacy, from an infant’s very first days, as an essential aspect of pediatric care. According to the AAP, “the toolkit provides updated, practical resources for pediatric professionals, as well as guidance for families on the importance of talking, reading, and singing with their children to promote early learning. The toolkit includes 12 tip sheets, parent handouts and other publications in easy-to-use, mobile-friendly formats to help pediatricians promote early literacy.”

 

Resources include:

-16 concrete ways pediatric health professionals can promote early literacy in their practice and community;

-Background for pediatric professionals on the science of early literacy;

-Parent-friendly tips on sharing books with children at specific ages and stages of development, from birth through age 10;

-Advice for parents on “the secret to a smarter baby”;

-Recommendations on choosing books for children based on age and topic, including specific titles;

-Tips from doctors on reading with very young children, including the 5 Rs of early education.

 

“Pediatricians want all parents and caregivers to know that by making special one-on-one time every day to read, talk and play with their young children, they are promoting their child’s early learning. This kind of treasured experience actually creates new connections in their child’s brain that promote language development and secure the bond between parent and child,” said Pamela High, MD, FAAP, lead author of the AAP’s early literacy policy statement. “By creating the Books Build Connections toolkit, the AAP and Too Small to Fail, in collaboration with Reach Out and Read, are getting the word out to families that early experiences really matter.”

 

Olivia, age 5

Fall Fundraising Campaign Kicks Off

For just $60 you can contribute to a child’s lifetime of success.

Join Reach Out and Read Kansas City in our mission today and help us provide books to thousands of children who need them tomorrow. Donate here

 

Every night before she goes to sleep, five-year-old Olivia runs to her book shelf and pulls out her favorite book, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. It takes her less than two minutes to get situated comfortably in her mom’s lap before she hands the book over and says she is ready to read. As her mom begins the story, Olivia soon chimes in line by line, word by word. You see, the book Olivia is so excited to read is a very special book she received at her three-year-old well child checkup from her pediatrician. She has read the story at least two hundred times, but that doesn’t matter. Every night before bed, she gets to escape into the story and become one of the characters, she gets to leave the real world and become part of the book’s fantasy world. Olivia may only be five, but thanks to Reach Out and Read Kansas City, she has already developed a love of reading and is ready to enter kindergarten and succeed.

 

This is just one success story from Reach Out and Read Kansas City. There are 29,000 more stories of kids just like Olivia who are learning to love books and reading. It is our hope you will help us ensure these children continue to have books to call their own. We want to make sure children enter kindergarten ready to learn, and with your help we can do that. No matter the size of your gift– $5 to sponsor a new book or $60 to sponsor a child throughout the five year program or $250 to sponsor a small clinic–you are making a difference in the lives of Kansas City kids.

2014 logo

Guest Blog- Party With a Purpose at 3rd Annual Books & Brews Event

The following post is a guest blog from Libby Hastert, an online content writer, and a volunteer, close friend, and supporter of Reach Out and Read Kansas City. To view her original post on her own blog, please click here.

 

“I grew up with books. Literally sitting on them in the classroom and sleeping on them during naptime. Before I could even read, I had an innate understanding of what books represented.

 

Teachers had them. Librarians had them. My parents and older sisters had them.

 

Other things these individuals had? Intelligence and independence. So, naturally, I deduced that reading books equated to power. And I wasn’t too off base. Reading books ushers in an exciting world of possibilities that stems from newfound knowledge — knowledge acquired from reading books.

 

The funny thing about my obsession with books is how much I struggled with reading at an early age. It wasn’t my missing two front teeth, knocked out on the Jungle Gym, that kept me fumbling over sentences, though. For whatever reason, I was a late bloomer when it came to reading. Fortunately for me, I had parents, teachers, tutors, and older sisters to show me the way, introducing me to the mischievous adventures of “Junie B. Jones” and so many other action-packed titles.

 

Sadly, we live in a world where many children — our very own Kansas City youth included — don’t have the access to the overabundance of resources I had. In fact, many do not even have books to call their own.

 

Why Children’s Literacy  Matters

 

According to the National Education Association (NEA), children from families below the poverty line are less likely to experience daily, in-home reading. In another study, the NEA discovered that in-home reading plays an instrumental role in healthy child development and enhanced reading proficiency.

 

What makes the absence of reading so problematic?

 

What’s most concerning about this phenomenon, is that the early years of child development have a large impact on the learners children become.

 

“Children develop much of their capacity for learning in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90 percent of their eventual adult weight,” reported the U.S. Department of Education.

 

As a result, the absence of reading becomes a problem for many kids well before the school years begin. With many children not having access to the basic necessities they need to flourish, promoting literacy through local programs like Reach Out & Read – Kansas City (RORKC) is more important than ever.

 

Party With a Purpose

 

As somebody who was fortunate enough to have a collection of books so large it poured off the bookshelves, onto the floor and into my bed, I can appreciate the wonderful efforts RORKC makes annually. And as a proud volunteer, I’ll take a moment to brag.

 

RORKC annually provides over 72,000 new books for more than 28,000 low-income children who are 0-5 years old. Book donations are issued during well-child visits at our local, partner clinic sites. Children in the program ultimately acquire a 13-book library before entering the education system. 

 

Books & Brews

 

Fundraising isn’t all bubbly and door prizes. However, twice a year we host events, designed to raise money and awareness about children’s literacy in the Kansas City area. This week, Kansas Citians have the opportunity to party for a purpose at our 3rd annual Books & Brews fundraiser.

 

Below is the scoop on the upcoming, not-to-be-missed event.

 

Who: 

You’ll find lots of book-loving folks who want to drink beer while promoting literacy.

 

When:

Friday, September 26, 2014, at 5 pm sharp.

 

Where:

The Kansas City Public Library Central Branch. Snacks, libations, and a raffle will be held inside, and a beer garden party, underneath the lights of the Kansas City skyline, will be located on the rooftop.

 

What:

Party with a purpose. Our third annual Books & Brews event comes complete with an evening of libations, tasty bites, and a fun raffle and door prizes.

 

Drinking beer is fun, but you can do that any other night of the week.  Drinking beer and raising money for children’s literacy is awesome, and it’s something you can only enjoy one night a year.

 

To attend this evening of entertainment, click the link and make your donation in the form of a ticket purchase”

blog9

Early Literacy and Reading Aloud is Taking the Lead

Early literacy has become a popular topic this week as the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first-ever policy statement focused on literacy promotion. The policy calls for pediatricians to advise all parents about the many benefits of reading aloud, which promotes literacy and motor skills.

 

The new statement, aimed at 62,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics’, urges pediatricians to talk to parents about how critical reading aloud is for children’s brain development and literacy skills, and to provide books during visits for all low-income, high-risk children.

 

Reach Out and Read Kansas City is extremely excited to see how this new policy affects children’s development and enhances their lives. For 25 years, Reach Out and Read has trained doctors and nurse practitioners to give books and early literacy advice at well-child visits, and now that it is becoming an official policy for all pediatricians to follow, even more parents will understand the importance of reading to their children every day.

 

Studies have shown that every year, more than one in three children enter kindergarten without the language skills required to learn how to read.  In low-income families, children hear very few words by the time they are three. Reach Out and Read works to solve this problem every day and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new policy is another step in the right direction.

 

Now, there is nowhere to go but up as we continue to fight for children’s literacy and hope to witness even more children enter school ready to read and succeed.

small

A Reach Out and Read Success Story!

Earlier this year, I experienced the direct impact Reach Out and Read Kansas City made on a young girl who went through the program. Back in September, I was working with the Blue Valley High School CAPS film class to put together different impact videos that showcased Reach Out and Read Kansas City’s message. I developed the concept of having real kids in the videos to really show the audience who it is our program helps. I began a search to find young children who took part in the Reach Out and Read Program and benefited from receiving a book at each well-child visit. This is how I met Joslyn.  The minute I met her I could tell she was a very bright little girl.

 

I was given Joslyn’s name through one of our hospital coordinators and from there I contacted her mom to see if she had any interest in being in our videos. Her mom immediately agreed, saying Joslyn loved being the center of attention. When I met her, she was actually quite shy at first. But as soon as I asked her about the chapter book, Polyanna, which she had clutched to her chest, a wide smile appeared on her face and she began to go into detail about the story.

 

Joslyn just turned six years old and she was already reading chapter books that kids twice her age read. It was amazing to see her come out of her shell as she explained the different adventures Polyanna went on. Reach Out and Read Kansas City helped kick start Joslyn’s learning by giving her a book during each stage of her development, and by six years old she could read all on her own and loved doing so!

 

Months later, I received an email from Joslyn’s mom saying that Joslyn has great problem solving skills, a good grasp of cause and effect, and is in the highest reading group in her kindergarten class. She believed that reading to Joslyn since she was a baby helped her learn how to read. At the end of her email she added, “thank you Reach Out and Read for allowing Joslyn to have this experience.”  That right there is why we do what we do. All kids deserve the opportunity to grow up with a bright future, Reach Out and Read Kansas City jump starts that process by making sure each child who takes part in our program enters kindergarten willing and ready to learn.

blog6

Celebrating All of Our Volunteers

April is Volunteer Appreciation month and I must say that after observing our volunteers in action, they really are the back bone of Reach Out and Read. It is always amazing to see how invested they become in our program no matter what they do, whether that’s reading at the clinics, helping in the office, or serving on one of our event committees. Some of our volunteers have been with us for 10 plus years and they continue to come back to dedicate some of their time to Reach Out and Read Kansas City each and every week.

 

We are truly grateful to every single one of our volunteers. You all help us make a difference in the community, enhance children’s lives, and share with them one of the most precious gifts of all, the gift of reading. Check out some awesome volunteer stories below.

 

One time a little girl that came into the clinic was very shy.  She wouldn’t talk but finally got up the courage to come over to the little table where I was sitting with a book.  I started reading Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley.  The book has lots of actions.  I was doing the actions at first and then she started doing them with me.  Before she was called back for her appointment, we were dancing and twirling around the waiting room together, acting out the book we were reading.  We both had a lot of fun!

 

One little boy was never called in to see the doctor, while other kids who were listening with us were.  I thought that was odd, until I finished the book and the mother asked if we were done and then they left.  They were just there to make an appointment and she stayed through the long book to let her son read with me.

 

I volunteered one afternoon when a family with six children came into the clinic for their well-child visits.  The kids were all into having books read to them that even though I was only scheduled to read for one hour, I stayed for two until they were all done with their appointments. I just really enjoy seeing the smile on all of the children’s faces when I read to them.

 

If this made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, check out how YOU can become a volunteer with Reach Out and Read Kansas City today by clicking here. There’s no time like the present to give back to our wonderful community and change lives for the better.

blog8

A Great Experience: Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast

After months of preparation, Green Eggs and Ham finally took place this past Friday. As a staff-member for Reach Out and Read KC, I was able to experience the event from the very start to the very finish, and what a transformation it was! We turned the Westin Ballroom into a whimsical, rhythmical, magical place, bringing the magic of Dr. Seuss to life. It was my first time at Green Eggs and Ham so even though we arrived at the Westin bright and early at 5am to help set up, I was too excited to even think about being tired.  For months I heard stories about the breakfast from years past, and I knew that after all the planning and work we put into this year’s breakfast, it was supposed to be bigger and better than years past.

 

As guests enjoyed a lovely, gourmet version of green eggs and ham, they were entertained by Bryan Busby and Reverend Adam Hamilton who hysterically read the actual book to the audience. I definitely was not expecting those voices out of Bryan Busby! He read the story in an array of hilarious voices from Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Chewbacca and Sponge Bob Square Pants. I stood in the back of the room to watch the action take place, and couldn’t contain my laughter, they did a wonderful job making the entire room smile. After the audience was moved to laughter, Superintendent Jim Hinson  gave a captivating and eye opening speech about why the kids of Kansas City need our help. After his emotional speech, our Executive Director Megan took the stage and gave a wonderful speech about the importance of children’s literacy. I hope all the guests in attendance were as moved as I was listening to these speeches, they both really hit home and spoke about how every child deserves to reach their full potential.

 

Once  the speeches were over, it was time to wrap up the breakfast. I don’t think an hour and a half has ever gone by so fast before. When the last of the guests made their way out of the ballroom, it was time to pack up everything and head back to the office to see the rough estimate of how much money was raised. As it turns out, the 8th Annual Green Eggs and Ham breakfast really was bigger and better than any other year! We raised over $87,000 dollars, which is a huge accomplishment for Reach Out and Read KC. I am extremely happy that not only did I get to experience the best Green Eggs and Ham yet, but that I was able to contribute to the preparation and planning. The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast will be an experience I will never forget and I am beyond excited that all the money raised will go toward supporting kids in need!

blog2

The Impact of Our Volunteer Readers

As the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for Reach Out and Read, I have received the opportunity to do many great things with this organization. One experience that really stands out in my mind was when I was able to work with a local photography student to take pictures of our volunteer readers at different clinics throughout the area. As we made our rounds to each clinic, I explained to the parents why we were there and they graciously allowed us to take photos of their children. While the photographer snapped away, I received my first real opportunity to observe the volunteer reader program in action.

 

By the time we got to our last clinic, Swope Health Central, the photographer as well as myself were getting a little tired. We experienced all sorts of kids, from older kids who were eager to read out loud, to younger kids who were shy and needed coaxing. We encountered a mix of excitement and nervousness as each volunteer reader took command of the room to read a story to the different children waiting to see the doctor. But we had one more clinic to go, so we put a smile on our faces and walked into the waiting room ready for anything.

 

What we experienced exceeding all of my expectations, it came in the form of one of the cutest little boys I have ever seen. He probably was around two years old with big, brown eyes and a wide, sweet smile. When we walked in, he was sitting on the volunteer reader’s lap carefully listening to every word she said during her very animated version of the book Bang, Boom, Roar. Halfway through the story, the little boy’s grandma interjected that they needed to run outside to their car to grab something. When she told the little boy to come with her you could just see his face crumble as he began to cry. He reached his tiny hands up to the volunteer reader and held on tight as tears rolled down his face. The grandma looked surprised that he didn’t want to leave the readers side, so she asked if it was okay if she ran out to the car alone. Rocking the little boy, the volunteer reader said that was no problem and once again began reading the story, picking up right where she left off.

 

Watching all these actions unfold before my very eyes somewhat astounded me. I knew that our volunteer reader program was a great way to get kids to listen to a story, but this was something completely different. The fact that our volunteer made such an impact on this little boy, enough of an impact to where he was visibly upset when he was told he had to leave, proves that something as small as sitting in a clinic waiting room and reading to a child for an hour out of a week, really can make a difference in their life. Because of our volunteer readers, kids are shown the importance of reading and how much fun it can be. This little boy absolutely loved being read to and you could tell by watching him interact with the reader. Each page she read, his smile spread wider and his laugh rang louder. In that moment he was exactly what he was supposed to be, a young boy enjoying a great story.

 

blog3

From Staff Member to Volunteer – My Volunteer Reader Experience

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” -Dr. Seuss-

 

Walking into Turner House Children’s Clinic I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Was it going to be a mad house with kids running around the waiting room? Or was it going to be completely empty, not a young soul to be seen? As I made my way inside I let out a sigh of relief.  Sitting in chairs throughout the giant waiting room were four families, and sitting at a small table in the middle of the room were two boys, talking and playing with different toys.

 

I hurried to collect a bunch of books and the red Reach Out and Read apron, marched up to the table, set the books down, and excitedly exclaimed, “who wants to read a book?” At first the boys looked at me like I was crazy, but as soon as I spread the books out on the table they began to eagerly sift through them. The older boy looked around eight or nine, so I picked up a small chapter book and told him how cool it looked and that he should read it to me. A big smile formed on his face as he scooped up the book, opened the first page and began to read. The younger boy who looked to be about seven made his way over to us, and after a few minutes of listening to the older boy read each page, he announced that he also wanted to read. So there both boys sat, switching off line by line, if the younger one needed help the older boy would quickly assist him by sounding out the word.  I must admit, it was an awesome sight to see. Not only were both boys reading but they were excited about what they were reading and willing to help each other out if they needed it. After a few minutes, their names got called to see the doctor, but before they left I made sure to tell them that they were awesome readers, high fiving them on their way out of the room.

 

As soon as they left, a little girl who looked to be around five slowly made her way over to me. “Do you want to read a book,” I asked. It took her a minute to come sit down but after encouragement from her mom, she came and sat right next to me. I looked at all the books and asked her if she wanted to read one about Christmas. As soon as I said the word Christmas, a smile spread across her face and she nodded her head. I opened the book and began to read. It wasn’t long before the little girl started asking me all sorts of questions and pointing out the different illustrations. I learned so much about this little girl from her favorite color, red, to her favorite animal, dog. It’s like the minute we started reading the book her shyness evaporated into thin air. It’s crazy that one element on a single page of a book can do that to a child. Once we finished the book, I noticed the little girl’s mom observing us from her chair. I told her how sweet her daughter was and her response was ‘thank you for reading with her.”  To many people a simple thank you might not seem like much, but to me it meant that the mom noticed her daughter come to life through something as simple as reading a book. Hopefully after watching our short time together, she too will read with her.

 

After I said goodbye to the little girl I noticed there weren’t very many people left in the waiting room. As I looked around, I spotted another adorable little girl who couldn’t be more than three years old. What’s better was she already had a book in her hand. So I called over to her and asked if she wanted to read her book. She quickly got out of her chair and ran over to me. As I looked at the book I noticed that it was a Spanish and English book. I don’t know Spanish so I decided to read just the English parts. After reading one of the pages about colors, I asked her what her favorite color was. She said something back to me, and I realized she said it in Spanish. So I asked her a different question, and again she replied in Spanish. I continued to read the book, not knowing if she understood or not, but boy was she alert. She looked at each page, pointed to different things and said something that I could not understand.  So in return, I smiled, nodded, and pointed to a different picture in the book that she would say something in Spanish about. We went on like this through the entire book. It didn’t even matter that there was a language barrier. This little girl was so into the book, smiling and laughing after she said something and nodding and smiling up at me, peering at me with her big brown eyes as I said something. This just proves that a book can do more than help children grow; it can allow two people from different backgrounds to come together and bond over one thing.

 

By the time the little girl left, I realized it was already the end of the hour. My first time volunteering exceeded my expectations. I may not have learned any of the kids’ names, or spent more than twenty minutes with them, but I did get to see them smile and enjoy the books we read together. That is totally worth it to me.