“We would like to thank you sooooo much for the donation of the Book Library as well as all of the wonderful books you sent with it. Both the children and staff love the Library!!!”
Angela Dunklin, Center Supervisor for Regent Park Early Learning Center
Coming Together in the Face of COVID
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Rx for Reading teamed up with one our very first community partners, United Children and Family Head Start, and a new partner, Gleaners Community Food Bank, to provide food for little ones’ minds — along with food for their bodies! Since March, UCFHS and Gleaners have served over 100 families twice a month, and Rx for Reading has provided over 1,000 brand new children’s books for this extraordinary effort.
Coming together in the face of COVID-19 has been a natural extension of our work with United Children and Family Head Start. Since 2015, University of Detroit Mercy undergraduates have read with hundreds of Head Start and Great Start preschoolers through our Reading Buddies program. Participating preschoolers get to choose a new book to take home and keep every week — 13,500 books and counting.
We were so disappointed when the Reading Buddies program had to go on hiatus due to COVID, but thankful that children and families could continue to access books during this difficult time.
As always, books were purchased with donations from our generous supporters, and we were able to offer some fantastic selections, including Elephant and Piggie Like Reading; Leonardo: The Terrible Monster; Knuffle Bunny; Drawn Together; Digger the Dinosaur; Don’t Worry Little Critter; Holly’s Day at the Pool; Finding Dory; Drawn Together; and Baby Beluga.
As a special treat for Rx for Reading and UCFHS families, Ms. Kimberly Ogletree recorded a video reading one of the amazing books we were able to distribute this spring: The World Shines for You.
Please enjoy and share!
Thank you to United Children and Family Head Start and Gleaners Community Food Bank. It takes a village–we are glad to be in yours!
Life as a Guest Reader!
By Chanel Marie Smith
The role of being a guest reader is far more interesting than the title alone. Most weeks I join the preschoolers at Emmanuel Head Start, which is a few miles northeast of the university. Watching the children grow each semester and develop a true love for reading is a remarkable feeling. We look forward to seeing each other every week–they know my name, and I know all of theirs! I have also had the pleasure of reading with students at Cooke S.T.E.M. Academy (Detroit Public Schools Community District) and Dickinson West Elementary (Hamtramck Public Schools). Watching the children interact with different stories–especially guessing the events of what will happen next–is my favorite part of being a guest reader.
March is Reading Month was quite the celebration this year. Emmanuel, Cooke S.T.E.M., and Dickinson West all celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday. We kicked off the month by reading the classic Happy Birthday to You!, which was Dr. Seuss’s first all-color picture book. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and High? Low? Where Did It Go? were popular with both the preschoolers and elementary students. A lot of the children were most familiar with The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. This story revolves around the Cat making a mess of everything he touches while incorporating all of the letters of the alphabet. The children at all of the schools know the sequences of this book like you would know your favorite movie.
Keeping up with the stories children love, Emmanuel Head Start has taken a dive into the Pete the Cat series for the month of April. So far, we have read Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes and Pete the Cat Rocking in my School Shoes. The song in Pete the Cat Rocking in my School Shoes was very catchy and the children sung right along, which was great!
by Mary-Catherine Harrison, Director, Rx for Reading Detroit
I’m a sucker for New Year’s resolutions (even though I’ll probably break them come January), but for me the end of the year is also a time to give thanks and take stock. With Rx for Reading, that includes taking actual stock of the books we gave to our many community partners this year. Luckily, an Excel spreadsheet does much of that work for us!
In 2018, we were able to distribute 29,585 books: 22,880 gently used books donated by individuals and groups all around Metro Detroit and 6,705 new books that we were able to purchase with monetary donations so that children can have the excitement and pride of owning a brand new book of their own. Our goal for this semester is to reach 125,000 books distributed to kids and families in our community.
The end of the year (and beginning of the winter semester) is also a time to take stock of the books we have on hand and the requests we need to fill. When I started Rx for Reading in 2014 I had no idea that supply chain management would be such a critical feature of the work! Balancing books in and books out can be a delicate dance, but it always seems to work out in the end. This fall we had a bit of stress when we depleted our entire stock of picture books, but at the critical moment we received several monetary donations from new and long-time supporters and small grants from the Ford Fund and the Detroit Mercy Mission Micro Grant Program. After placing several huge orders from the First Book National Book Bank, we were back up and running.
Every monetary donation we receive goes straight to work–and each donation makes an enormous impact. In case you missed it, you can see what as little as $10 can accomplish in a recent blog post.
Towards the end of the semester we also received four large donations of books that will get us off to a good start this January. These donations give a good sense of the diverse groups of folks who collect books on our behalf: the Robocubs Team at University of Detroit Jesuit, the Birmingham Country Club Book Club, Talia, a seventh grader who collected books as a community service project for her Bat Mitzvah, and Elijah, a high schooler who collected books for his Eagle Scout project. I have this refrain in my head most days–It truly takes a village.
Much of our day-to-day work is spent working to meet the needs of our many community partners. We recently calculated that we have provided over 20,000 books to eight different clinics run by the Arab American Chaldean Council, one of our first and most dedicated community partners! Every week student volunteers read in Head Start classrooms and help each child pick a new book to take home and keep.
One highlight this year was establishing new Rx for Reading free community libraries at four different schools–César Chávez Early Elementary in Southwest Detroit, Dove Academy on the East Side, Adams Upper Elementary School in Westland, and the Beatty Early Learning Center in Ypsilanti. These libraries are now an integral part of their school communities, where children can choose books to “Take, Read, Share” at any time. Another highlight was “upgrading” the Washtenaw WIC Clinic–from a bookcase to a beautiful rainbow library–in honor of Elayne Hack, a lifelong lover of books. John Mio continues to be extraordinarily generous, donating his time and talent to building each and every one of our libraries.
Since the beginning, the daily operations of Rx for Reading have been run by students at University of Detroit Mercy. Without them we simply wouldn’t exist (and I would fall to pieces!). It was both exciting and sad when our longtime student coordinator, Emma Mucci, graduated this May. Emma dedicated hundreds upon hundreds of hours to Rx for Reading, including managing volunteer hours for scores of students in my service learning courses. This academic year the core members of the Rx for Reading team are Chanel Smith, who reads at Emmanuel Head Start and makes virtually all of our pickups and deliveries, Temperance Baker, who manages our donations and deliveries (and tries to create order among the chaos!), Jency Shaji, who reads at All About Kids Head Start and helps with book sorting, and Hannah Tillman, who does whatever else needs doing. Brittany Derr, our longtime reader at Summer Preschool, which is just a few blocks away from campus, is also graduating, but Nurzahan Rahman graciously stepped in and took over reading in the school’s Head Start and Great Start classrooms.
There is so much more I could talk about, but suffice it to say I am grateful for the year we have had and looking forward to the year to come. There is always more to be done.
Thank you to each and every one of our volunteers, donors, partners, and friends. You have given children with limited access to books the opportunity to read. What could be more valuable? Of course we would be happy for your end-of-year (or any time of year) donations of money, books, or time. Please subscribe to our blog; follow us on Facebook or Twitter; tell your friends; and keep in touch.
Together, WE ARE
Tales of a Donation
Most days the problems of the world feel very large, and our ability to solve them so very small.
“What could $10 possibly do?”
With zero overhead, Rx for Reading uses 100% of donations to purchase new books and build free community libraries.
This is what we purchased with a recent $10.00 donation:
THANKS from the Very Hungry Caterpillar: 70¢
I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doin’ Work: 60¢
Satchmo’s Blues, 80¢
Jan Brett’s Animal Treasury: 80¢
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible: 80¢
The Very Eric Carle Treasury: 80¢
The Foot Book: 80¢
The Only Child: 80¢
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo: 60¢
If You Come Softly: 80¢
The Crayons’ Book of Numbers: 80¢
The All-I’ll-Ever-Want-Christmas-Doll: 80¢
For those of you keeping count at home:
One $10 donation.
13 brand new books.
And 10¢ to spare.
Thank you to all of our supporters, from Rx for Reading Detroit!
Make your tax-deductible donation here:
Rx for Reading at César Chávez Early Elementary!
Tome, Lea, Comparta!
Rx for Reading is excited to announce our new collaboration with the César Chávez Academy in Southwest Detroit. The early elementary school is now home to an Rx for Reading community library, which was given to the school along with a collection of 400 children’s books to help keep it filled. All students at the school are invited to “Take, Read, Share!” / “Tome, Lea, Comporta!”
“I love to see the children choosing books and donating them to the Lorax library.”
Lauri Cobb, Intervention Teacher, César Chávez Early Elementary (and our partner on the ground!)
“I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Arely Valencia, parent and one-on-one aide at César Chávez
Rx for Reading also sponsored the school’s celebration of El día de los niños / El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), providing a brand new book for every one of the school’s 455 kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders. Two Detroit Mercy alums, Marco Ineguez-Vera (BSN-Nursing) and Ana Barajas (Honors Biology), read to students at the event.
Thank you, César Chávez, for giving the Lorax Library the perfect home!
Happy 3rd Birthday to Rx for Reading Detroit!
On September 25th, 2014, Rx for Reading Detroit was born!
Our mission from the beginning has been a simple one:
- Expand access to high-quality children’s books for kids in our community.
- Support low-income families in reading with their children.
- Collaborate with diverse community partners in Detroit and the surrounding area.
Our initial goal was to collect and distribute 1,000 children’s books. Three years later, we have had the great privilege of giving over 80,000 books to kids and families in Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Dearborn, and Ypsilanti.
How have we done it?
Thousands of growing kids and teens have given their books to be shared with younger children.
Scores of schools, businesses, and community organizations have run book drives to help collect books.
20,000 brand new books have been purchased with generous financial support from over 100 individual donors as well as grants from Impact Detroit, Ford Community Corps, Kohl’s Cares, University of Detroit Mercy Mission Micro-Grant Program, and University of Detroit Mercy Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
Over 100 Detroit Mercy undergraduates and graduate students have done the “heavy lifting” of day-to-day operations.
Our belief is that literacy is social justice.
Our vision is to help eliminate the opportunity gap by ensuring universal access to age-appropriate reading material.
Our commitment is to raising the next generation of readers and leaders in our community.
To help celebrate our 3rd birthday, read to a child in your life, or give a donation to help support reading in the lives of all children!
75,000! (And counting)
Guest blog by Emma Mucci, Student Coordinator for Rx for Reading Detroit
Rx for Reading has reached another memorable milestone! Since September 2014, we have distributed over 75,000 books to thousands of kids and families in our community. We couldn’t have done it without our incredible community partners, organizations that work every day to support families and empower children in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.
We also could not have reached this goal without our many supporters and donors. As the number of families we serve has grown, so has our need for books and financial donations. During the spring and summer of 2017, over 20 different organizations and schools ran book drives for Rx for Reading. Book drives were held as close as the University of Detroit Mercy campus to as far away as Grand Junction, Colorado! Together these donors contributed over 10,000 books to help support literacy for all children.
Some of the books that found new homes and families this summer.
Rx for Reading Community Libraries–Making Space for Reading!
In a city characterized as a “book desert,” how do you grow an environment that is rich with print?
Our answer is that reading can happen anywhere, so books need to be everywhere. Over the last two years Rx for Reading has established over 30 community libraries in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, in addition to our 15 clinic libraries in health, dental, and WIC clinics. These little houses for books can be found in community centers, churches, schools, shelters, and more. At each Rx for Reading Community Library children and families are invited to choose books to “Take, Read, Share!”–over 15,000 books in all, in addition to 55,000 books distributed through our other programs.
“As the ultimate portable object, books move from community spaces into the home environments of children, where they have been shown to have such a powerful impact on literacy and academic success.”
Mary-Catherine Harrison, Ph.D. from “Rx for Reading Detroit: Place-Based Social Justice Pedagogy” (Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Spring 2017)
“The Hamtramck Neighborhood Center has been transformed so that the community, seniors and youth can receive services in a safe inviting space. Seniors come during the day for wellness and health classes and activities. The youth come after school and during the summer for great exposure to recreation, art, cooking and yoga classes. Both groups use the “reading lounge” to relax and enjoy a good book donated by Rx for Reading Detroit.”
Gregory Everett, LMSW, Executive Director of People’s Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit.
Rx for Reading libraries are not only resources for the community; they are created through a community effort. Our community partners serve as library stewards, helping to keep the libraries safe and stocked with books. Building materials are purchased with monetary donations from our generous supporters, who also donate books to help keep them filled. John Mio Woodworking volunteers their labor and many painters have volunteered their artistic expertise, including kids who use the libraries! If you would like to sponsor an Rx for Reading Community Library, a donation of $150 places a library with a new community partner. Every $20 purchases 10 new books for kids to “Take, Read, Share!” Give here: https://impact.udmercy.edu/rxreading
Thank you to every one of our supporters and our community partners who have “made space” for reading! Together we are raising readers and leaders in our community.
Partner Profile: Covenant Community Care
In 2015, Rx for Reading Detroit began a valued partnership with Covenant Community Care, a federally qualified health clinic that provides care regardless of patients’ ability to pay. Each year Covenant provides health, dental, and behavioral care to over 18,000 people in Metro Detroit through their seven clinics as well as their home care and homeless outreach programs.
In two years Rx for Reading has provided over 3,500 books to the patients and families at the Covenant Michigan Avenue Health Clinic, another 1,350 books to the Covenant Michigan Avenue Dental Clinic, and 550 books to the Covenant Clinic on Moross. With the help of our generous donors we are able to include new Spanish and bilingual books in every delivery to Covenant clinics in Southwest Detroit.
Dr. Mary Hakim and the other healthcare providers at Covenant know how important reading and access to books is for children’s long-term health and educational outcomes:
“Literacy promotion is critical to pediatric care. Many families living in poverty do not have the funds to purchase books for their home. The Rx for Reading program enables families to have this resource. Providers and clinics can also influence parents’ views on literacy by emphasizing the importance of reading aloud with their children. This helps with language development and literacy, promotes bonding within families, and helps forge a love for reading.”
Dr. Mary Hakim, M.D., Covenant Community Care
Thank you to the families and staff of Covenant Community Care. We are proud to partner with you!
A Little Free Library’s New Home on Campus
The latest Rx for Reading Detroit free library is inside the McNichols Campus Library at University of Detroit Mercy. Visitors to the library are invited to choose books to “Take, Read, Share” and donate their own books to help keep the library stocked. The McNichols Campus Library is open to the public and serves as a valuable resource for students and members of the community.The steward for the library, Megan Novell, is on the staff of the McNichols Campus Library and is an adjunct English instructor at University of Detroit Mercy. She also designed and painted the library! The Detroit Mercy library joins over 40 other free libraries installed by Rx for Reading Detroit.
Books are the Best Part of a Bedtime Routine!
As part of an initiative to promote healthy sleep routines, Rx for Reading donated a collection of 120 new books to 40 very excited preschoolers at Stottlemyer Early Childhood and Family Development Center in Westland, MI.
The healthy sleep initiative was developed by five senior nursing students at University of Detroit Mercy–Jessica Grauer, Haddy Jatta, Ze’Aneia Jiménez, Gabrielle Roti and Reshma Villanassery–and their instructor, Sherry McConnell.
Today’s guest post is written by Ze’Aneia Jiménez.
As a senior nursing student at the University of Detroit Mercy, my community health practicum focused on creating healthy bedtime routines for children age 3-5 who are at risk of developing health disparities related to living at or below the poverty line. Our goal was to develop appropriate interventions to help families establish nighttime routines that support healthy sleep behaviors.A major component of a good sleep routine is reading out loud to children before they go to bed. However, many of the children we worked with do not own books of their own. We needed to help give their families the tools necessary to carry out healthy sleep routines.
Partnering with Rx for Reading was a big part of our success with the students and families at Stottlemyer. The preschoolers were excited to pick out books to read and keep, and they could not wait to show them to their parents. Teachers were also grateful for the help in creating literacy-rich environments at home. We owe everyone at Rx for Reading a huge thank you. We could not have done it without your help and support!
Rx for Reading at Dickinson West Elementary School!
This September, as kids across the country get back into the swing of the school year, the students at Dickinson West Elementary in Hamtramck, MI are the proud new owners of an Rx for Reading library, along with a collection of 300 books they can “Take, Read, Share.”
According to a recent study on “Book Deserts” published in Urban Education, researchers found only one book available for purchase for every 42 children in Hamtramck. This makes it one of the lowest-access communities for children’s books in Michigan. The Rx for Reading library will be a free resource for all of the children and families at Dickinson West, and teachers and community members will help keep it stocked with books that children can take home, read, and keep.
Ms. Suzana Bosnjakovski’s 5th graders will serve as official library stewards after being “deputized” by Rx for Reading Director Mary-Catherine Harrison at the library unveiling. Thank you to Ms. Bosnjakovski, Dickinson West Principal Corey Pitts, and the entire Dickinson West community for their support of literacy and reading in Hamtramck.
Next up: Dickinson East!
Grow in Detroit with the Christ Church Reading Camp
This summer Rx for Reading was able to provide 300 new books for the Christ Church Summer Reading Camp, an annual week-long camp that welcomes children from the Franklin Wright Settlement.
Thank you to Christine Galli, Director of the Christ Church Summer Reading Camp, for writing this guest post!
“We had a great week with close to 30 children and 50 volunteers, and at the end of the week each one of the children had a bagful of books, thanks to the generous donation from Rx for Reading Detroit!” Christine Galli
Brightmoor Book Squad!
Guest post by Nicky Marcot, teacher at Westside Christian Academy and community volunteer with Neighbors Building Brightmoor. Nicky is a University of Detroit Mercy alum (English, 2007).
On Detroit’s northwest side neighborhood of Brightmoor, Rx for Reading provided a beautiful collection of high-quality books to Brightmoor Book Squad (BBS). Over the course of two months, Kids ages 1-12 came twice a week for an hour to read together, discuss what they read, complete fun related crafts, and share a healthy snack. The students also chose books to bring home, read, and keep.
The purpose of BBS’s Summer Reading Club was to keep students reading throughout the year, help curb summer slide, and show that reading doesn’t just have to be something they do in school, but can be a fun free-time activity too. Vanessa, the grandmother of ten-year-old participant Dan, said, “I had to force him to come the first day, but after that, he couldn’t wait to come back. I’ve never seen him read this much on his own!” Thank you Rx for Reading for helping get kids like Dan excited about reading, and coming back for more!
Community members Tavia Young, Britt Bradd, Trena Ross and Sky Brown helped run the Brightmoor Book Squad this summer.
River Rouge Reads!
Spending the summer with good books is the best way to maintain reading skills and return to school ready to succeed. More importantly, it’s fun!
This year Rx for Reading gave a collection of 180 books to 30 fantastic kids in River Rouge. The Hyacinth Court Summer program provides free day camp for children age 7 to 14 who live in River Rouge public housing. Campers and their families are provided with free breakfast and lunch each day, and campers participate in an array of enrichment and academic activities and take weekly field trips to educational sites in Metro Detroit.
Read more about the Youth and Family Services provided through Wayne Metro.
Thanks to our new partnership with Brainiacs Child Development Center on the East Side of Detroit, every preschooler was able to take four brand new books home for the summer. Not only will these incredible kids have the joy of reading with their families this summer, but they will be more prepared for success next school year.
Rx for Reading at Shekinah Tabernacle!
One of the guiding principles of Rx for Reading is that reading happens everywhere. We work to put books anywhere they can get in the hands and hearts of children in Detroit.
Our latest “home” for reading is the Shekinah Tabernacle Gospel Church at 16900 West Chicago.
Shekinah Tabernacle offers a broad range of programming for children in their congregation and the surrounding community.
Thank you to the Shekinah family and to Pastor Reggie Huff and his wife Linda Huff for inviting the latest Rx for Reading Library into their church community. Just look at these happy readers!!!
“The kids love ‘their’ library!” Linda Huff
El día de los niños/El día de los libros
El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is an annual celebration of children, families, and reading. Now in its 20th year, Día festivities across the country focus on literacy for children of all cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
In Southwest Detroit, Día was marked with a huge celebration in Clark Park organized by Matrix Head Start and attended by over 1,500 people. Rx for Reading was proud to contribute 915 new books for children and families who attended the event, including over 400 new Spanish and bilingual books that were funded by the UDM School Psychology Literacy Fund. All of the children who attended the event were encouraged to choose books to take home, read, and keep.
The celebration included favorite book characters, musical and cultural performances, and family activities related to reading and literacy. A highlight was a mock voting booth, where over 500 children voted for their favorite book!
Every day is a day for children and a day for books. Happy Día!
Rx for Reading at UDM’s Counseling Clinic
Our latest Rx for Reading library is right on the campus of University of Detroit Mercy! UDM’s Counseling Clinic is a no-cost mental health clinic providing individual and group counseling to approximately 250 clients per year. The clinic provides counseling for children and adults for a variety of mental health concerns, including depression, substance use, anger management, anxiety and career counseling.
Nursing major Heather Galli and English and Education major Paige Olekszyk braved the winter weather to deliver the bookcase and books. They were able to fit 365 books onto the book shelves–one for every day of the year. Special thanks to Emilie Wetherington, Director of Disability Support Services at University of Detroit Mercy, for her donation of the bookcase.
Clinical Director Sheri Pickover, Ph.D., LPC spoke to the value of incorporating Rx for Reading into the clinic’s work: “The opportunity to access free reading material provides the children and adults who come to the Counseling Clinic with an improved waiting room experience and a way to obtain often expensive books. The Counseling Clinic is grateful for the ability to offer our clients these resources.”
A Healthy Mouth and a Healthy Mind!
Rx for Reading is proud to support the work of Infant Oral Health, a community outreach program of the UDM School of Dentistry Pediatric Dental Clinic. This collaboration helps spread the message that literacy and dental hygiene are both key to children’s health.
Since 2006, Clinical Associate Professor Carolynn Zeitz, RDH, BS, RDA, MA has been taking groups of University of Detroit Mercy senior dental students to Head Start and Early Head Start programs to perform dental exams on children ages 4 months to 4 years of age and talk with the kids about good dental health. Now those kids also get to read with the dental students and take home a brand new book from Rx for Reading!
Since 2014, Rx for Reading has distributed over 1,000 children’s books through the UDM Pediatric Dental Clinic. With the help of the Infant Oral Health Community Outreach Program, we will be able to help foster a lifelong love of reading for even more children.
UDMSD dental students help spread the message: “Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes and read for twenty minutes a day. 2 x 2 + 20 = A Healthy Mouth and a Healthy Mind!”