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.

Pete the Cat with Emmanuel Head Start

Chanel–and Pete the Cat!–with the preschoolers at Emmanuel Head Start. Each week Chanel reads out loud and all of the children at Emmanuel get to pick out a new book to take home and keep.

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.

1st Graders at Cooke Academy

Chanel with the 1st Graders at Cooke S.T.E.M. Academy

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!


Chanel also takes on much of the “heavy lifting” for Rx for Reading. She has delivered over 20,000 books to our community partners across Metro Detroit!