Tag Archives: success

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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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!

 

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.

 

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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.

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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.
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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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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)

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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.

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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

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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!

 

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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

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

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!

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2013-2014 National Annual Report

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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.