Reach Out and Read Wisconsin receives 25,000 book donation

Friday, January 24, 2020, was a big day for the Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. In partnership with City of Milwaukee’s Office of Early Childhood Initiatives, Too Small to Fail, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, unveiled a Family Read, Play and Learn space at the Justice Center in Milwaukee.

The child literacy space in the family court waiting area at the Justice Center is the first of its kind in the nation created by Too Small to Fail. The literacy space is part of their larger program to raise awareness about the importance of early literacy, brain development and early learning. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Ms. Clinton chatted with parents, read to several children and then participated in a community forum. Additional panel participants sharing their messages of the importance of early literacy promotion and power of collaboration were Dea Wright, Director of the City of Milwaukee Office of Early Childhood; Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Mayor; Maxine White, Chief Judge of Milwaukee County; Ramona Gonzales, President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation and Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

Spaces like the one at the Justice Center are designed to meet parents where they are and help them make the most of everyday moments that can have a big impact on their child’s development. Too Small to Fail has worked to create similar spaces at laundry mats, including one in Milwaukee and playgrounds across the country. The spaces provide a much-needed early learning environment, according to Ms. Clinton.

“A fundamental test for our country is whether or not we can make early learning available and real to all kids and families,” she said.

After the event at the Justice Center, Ms. Clinton and other representatives from Too Small to Fail visited Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Chavez Clinic. Chavez Clinic was one of the first clinics to launch a Reach Out and Read program in Wisconsin. In their more than 20 years of participation in the evidence-based, clinical intervention, more than 100,000 books have been given to children in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. The now four participating Sixteenth Street Clinics serve more than 10,000 young children each year. Emilia Aranda, MD Director of Pediatrics for Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin advisory council member, provided a tour of the pediatrics clinic for Ms. Clinton. Afterward, Ms. Clinton read to a group of children and took pictures with Chavez Clinic staff.

In celebration of their five years of collaboration with Reach Out and Read National Center to advance early literacy and promote early brain development, Too Small to Fail has donated 25,000 copies of the bilingual book DJ’s Busy Day to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

These books will be delivered to Reach Out and Read participating clinics throughout the state in the upcoming months. In the meantime, a special thank you goes out to Books4School for storing the books until they are delivered.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff with Chelsea Clinton of Too Small to Fail
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team with Chelsea Clinton at the Chavez Clinic
Clinic coordinators from Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Chelsea Clinton
Clinic coordinators from Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Chelsea Clinton
Ms. Clinton reads aloud at the Chavez Clinic to young children
Ms. Clinton reads aloud at the Chavez Clinic

Innovative grant leads to program growth in Fox Cities

Since 2015, the Appleton Public Library (APL) has partnered with the Fox Cities’ medical community and all local public libraries in an effort to expand local participation in Reach Out and Read (ROR). APL is recognized by ROR National Center as a community partner in the support and expansion of Reach Out and Read. These efforts have been granted the designation, ROR Partners – Fox Cities. This group works closely with ROR Wisconsin staff to achieve its goals and maintain high quality program standards.

The ongoing work of ROR Partners – Fox Cities is made possible through an innovative grant from the United Way Fox Cities, which is the result of generous support from community donors.

The Fox Cities’ community keeps the child the focus of this unique effort. With the goal of reaching every child in the Fox Cities through a regional effort, ROR Partners – Fox Cities works together to encourage parents to read aloud daily to their infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Daily reading aloud is a simple and effective way of fostering nurturing, language-rich family interactions that support brain development and provide a foundation for success.

So how has this unique, regional collaboration impacted the growth of ROR in the Fox Cities’ community? During the past 2 years:

  • More than 21,000 books have been handed out to children ages 6 months to 5 years during their well-visits
  • 92 healthcare providers have been trained in early literacy promotion and have been encouraging and supporting parents as their child’s first and most important teacher
  • 13 medical clinics have launched their own ROR programs
  • Eight public libraries support their closest ROR clinic by keeping them stocked with gently-used books, providing library programming information, and overall literacy support
  • Five major health systems and multiple independent clinics are currently working together to secure long-term funding for the work of ROR Partners – Fox Cities
  • Four local businesses have supported the ROR efforts by hosting very successful internal book drives
  • Two literacy-rich environments have been created at medical clinics to be used as examples in the community of what a literacy-rich waiting room or child’s reading area could look like

Since the collaboration began, ROR Partners – Fox Cities’ providers and families have been surveyed annually. This survey tracks changes in the behaviors and attitudes towards reading as well as to maintain fidelity to the ROR model.

During the next 18 months of the innovative grant, a committee will work to ensure ROR Partners – Fox Cities remains active in the community for years to come.

Is your community interested in launching a similar effort? Here are a few tips:

  • Engage a healthcare provider who is also deeply invested in our youth and has a love of reading. They can help you champion the program in the community
  • Involve your local public library! They understand the importance of early literacy and may be able to partner with you
  • Educate your local United Way or community foundation on what ROR is all about! It’s important to show them the difference between ROR and other early literacy programs. ROR is not just a book giveaway but a clinical intervention which changes families reading behaviors. Bring along a copy of the published, peer reviewed, national research on ROR
  • Consider hosting ROR Wisconsin’s medical director, Dr. Navsaria for an event and invite all key community contacts
  • Check with ROR Wisconsin staff if your community efforts qualify for the ROR Partners designation.

Still have questions? Feel free to contact ROR Partners – Fox Cities program coordinator: Abbey Unruh at aunruh@apl.org or 920-832-5821.

Mosaic Family Health's literacy-rich waiting room created by APL in Fox Cities area
Mosaic Family Health’s literacy-rich waiting room created by Appleton Public Library

 

Librarians from APL, Fox Cities
Librarians from Appleton Public Library

How to create a literacy-rich environment on a budget

Northlakes Community Clinic Minong

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This waiting room has it all! Gently-used books, child-sized furniture, rain gutters for book shelves, a magazine organizer made from wire and binder clips and a Dr. Seuss quote in removable stickers.

Click here to learn how to DIY the rain gutter bookshelves.

The hanging magazine organizer DIY was made up by the clinic’s staff using picture hanging wire and binder clips. Simply measure your desired length and cut the wire and secure to wall with screws. Attach magazines using large binder clips. Simple and inexpensive!

The Dr. Seuss quote is available for $9 on Amazon .

 

All photos featured in this post, were taken at clinics around Wisconsin. If you try one of these literacy-rich projects or have other ideas, share them in the comments section below!