Tag Archives: literacy

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!

 

 

 

1 Millionth Book

Video Presentation of Reach Out & Read KC’s 1 Millionth Book!

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!

 


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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.

 

 

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Welcome Eric and Larissa

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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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)

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‘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!

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Turn the Page Dads

KC Dads Read

As Father’s Day approaches, Mayor Sly James and our partners at LINC and Turn the Page KC have launched a campaign to encourage KC fathers to spend time reading to their children. Between now and June 21, share a photo of yourself or a dad you know reading to his kids on our Facebook page, Instagram, or Twitter using the hashtag #DadsTurnThePage and you could win Royals tickets! Watch this video for more details.

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Anuva receives the Bronze Presidential Award

Volunteer Spotlight

We would like to put a volunteer spotlight on one of our youngest volunteers, Anuva Kolli (pictured above). She may be little, but she is doing big things to help in her community. This 9-year-old 3rd grader at Horizon Elementary in Desoto, KS, has been honored with the bronze level Presidential Community Service Award for the past two years, completing a total of over 70 hours of volunteer work. Not too shabby for someone who won’t even be able to drive for seven more years.

Anuva and her family have volunteered for Reach Out and Read Kansas City for many years, and this award reflects her service for us and several other agencies. She makes toys for animals at Wayside Waifs, participates in Girl’s on the Run, organized a book drive and continuously labels books to send to Reach Out and Read partner clinics.

Anuva says, “ I want everyone to enjoy reading as much as I do.  Every day I read about 5 hours”.  Anuva enjoys mysteries and funny stories. Right now she is starting the Nancy Drew series.

Anuva receives the Bronze Presidential Award

Anuva receives the Bronze Presidential Award

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!

 

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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

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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.

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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!

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Reach Out and Read Kansas City Awarded Federal Grant to Help Early Childhood Literacy

Reach Out and Read Kansas City has been named sub-recipient in a $3.8 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant awarded to the Children’s Reading Foundation by the U.S. Department of Education. For 2014-2015, we will receive $22,590 to pilot two new early literacy and early learning programs to serve high-poverty communities in the Greater Kansas City area.

 

Training for READY! For Kindergarten Program“We are honored to have the opportunity to build upon the solid foundation of our existing clinic-based school readiness program by presenting early learning and literacy skills workshops directly to local families,” said Mark Mattison, Executive Director of Reach Out and Read Kansas City. “Following the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s decision to add Kindergarten Readiness to its Big 5 Goals, this grant provides the perfect opportunity for us to do our part by expanding our current role.” Per the terms of the grant, we will be introducing in Kansas City the READY! For Kindergarten and Read Up programs, both developed by the Children’s Reading Foundation and currently operating successfully in chapter sites throughout the U.S. and Canada.

 

READY! For Kindergarten classes provide training and tools for parents and caregivers, equipping them to help children birth to age five develop strong brain connections, ensuring school success. Studies show nearly 80 percent of children whose parents take part in READY! meet the kindergarten reading readiness standard regardless of family income or ethnicity, compared to 55 percent of children whose parents do not attend.

 

The Read Up program is a summer literacy program that helps keep reading a part of daily summer routines by providing free books and weekly story times for children birth to eight. The program aims to reverse the “summer slide,” a situation where students lose up to three months of reading skills when school is out. Through this program, Reach Out and Read Kansas City will receive and distribute more than 13,000 books.

 

The nonprofit National Children’s Reading Foundation is headquartered in Kennewick, Wash. The organization was founded in 1996 with the vision that every child learns to read early and well, thereby reaching his or her full potential in school and life. The reading foundation developed and delivers national programs focused on reading skills and school readiness for children birth to age five. The organization also helps establish local Children’s Reading Foundation chapters in communities across the country. Learn more at:  www.readingfoundation.org.

 

Read the Children’s Reading Foundation’s press release.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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.