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!
Casey Rocheteau was the first ever winner of the Detroit Write-a-House competition. Write a House works to bolster the literary arts community in Detroit by renovating homes in Detroit neighborhoods and giving them to writers, free of charge, forever.
Rocheteau, a poet and performing artist, contributes to Detroit’s vibrant literary scene in print and in performance. But there is another way she contributes to literacy and reading—with the Little Free Library planted in front of her home. Recently Rx for Reading gave Rocheteau over 400 children’s books to help keep her library filled with choices for all of the kids in her neighborhood.
RX for Reading distributes a lot of picture books and early readers, but reading is a lifelong activity! It was especially fun to put together the RX for Reading Library at the Healthy Teens Community Care Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. From Louise Erdrich to Lois Lowry, Twilight to The Hunger Games, we hope the teens at HTC3 find plenty of books for their reading pleasure!
Thanks to the incredible staff at Healthy Teen Community Care Center! From left to right: Jade Burns, HTC3 Director; Ora Taunton- Medical assistant; Ronida Powell – MSU Intern; Jasmine Smothers – Clinic administrative assistant; Dr. Norris Polk – Medical director
The mission of the DCHC Healthy Teen Center is to provide community-based primary and mental health care services, health education, information on preventive and safety behaviors to youth aged 10-21 and up to age 26 for individuals with special needs; to offer a multifaceted array of services that will be accessible and available, confidential, culturally sensitive and age-appropriate with comprehensive health care planning; to promote awareness and involvement with healthy lifestyle choices and encourage youth to take responsibility for the care of their health; to provide counseling and peer-group involvement to deter them from unhealthy behaviors, and to expose youth to health care as a career choice.
Thanks for including RX for Reading Detroit in the incredible work you do for teens in our community!
UCFHS knows that reading is the foundation of ALL learning. Every year, families and teachers from their eight Head Start programs come together to celebrate their children and highlight their discoveries in math and science.
This year, RX for Reading Student Coordinator Sara Zawacki helped 260 children pick new books to take home. Talk about a day of reading and learning!
So Many Choices!
Sara helps with the selections
Linda Wesley, Community Relations Manager for Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, stopped by.
Maya Faison and Erik Krieger, two incredible members of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, delivered and sorted 1,700 BOOKS to be distributed through RX for Reading Clinic Libraries. Many of the books were donated by students and teachers across the city of Detroit, and now they will find new homes with kids and families in our community.
Individuals and community partners working together for literacy is what RX for Reading is all about.
In Leo Lionni’s classic children’s book Frederick, the hard-working mice collect grain while their companion Frederick daydreams. Initially angry with his laziness, the other mice realize Frederick’s value when he offers his crop of words and images late in the winter. His poetry nourishes them.
The Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program assists in meeting the nutritional needs of expectant, breast feeding and postpartum women, infants, and children through age five. Program services include nutritional education and counseling, supplemental nutritious foods, breastfeeding support, infant formula for babies up to one-years-old, health screenings, lead poisoning education, lead testing, hemoglobin testing, and referrals for additional services. WIC is a health and nutrition program that has demonstrated a positive effect on pregnancy outcomes, child growth and development.
Thank you to the ACC for inviting us to be part of the work you do for our community!
Thank you Southwest Solutions for inviting RX for Reading to their Thrive by Five Community Open House! Thrive by Five is a federally-funded, early childhood education program designed to help families break the cycle of poverty. It incorporates Early Head Start and Head Start programs for children from birth to five and wraparound services including family support, parental skills training, and health and social service support and referrals.
The UDM team! Renesha Smoot Grafton, Sandybel Quintana, Kristin Hnatio, Nancy VanRaemdonck, Erika Turak. Not pictured: Heather Bishop and Erin Henze.
There was lots of excitement at the RX for Reading table!
Renesha Smoot Grafton and and Sandybel Quintana wait for the families to arrive.
UDM Assistant Professor of Psychology Erin Henze and UDM graduate and undergraduate students Kristen Hnatio, Nancy VanRaemdonck, Heather Bishop, Sandybel Quintana, Erika Turak, and Renesha Smoot Grafton represented RX for Reading at the Community Open House. They distributed over three hundred new English and Spanish-language books to children and talked with parents about strategies for reading with children and promoting literacy.
Thank you to Southwest Solutions for inviting us and to our incredible donors who allow us to provide new books for children in our community!
Every Thursday, University of Detroit Mercy undergraduates visit the morning and afternoon classes at Emmanuel Head Start, a short drive from the Detroit Mercy campus. After reading out loud with the kids, they help all of the Emmanuel students pick out a new book to take home to read with their families.
The kids adore Detroit Mercy freshman Renesha Smoot-Grafton, whom they call “Nesha”.
The idea behind the Rx for Reading Head Start partnership is to bring together students at the very beginning of their education and students towards the end of theirs through the shared love of reading. Preschoolers get to see that reading is a lifelong activity, one they will do every day when they are the college kids. College students get to take a break from the stress of studying to remember the pure joy of reading and the excitement of discovering a new book.
Detroit Mercy Business major Anna Mindling reads Doc McStuffins with the kids at Emmanuel
Families get to share in the excitement when the preschoolers bring their new books home. We bring a broad selection of books each visit so the kids are empowered to pick out books that they are excited to read. According to the head teacher at Emmanuel, Mrs. Kimberly Ogletree, parents have reported that their children have been read their new books so often that the preschoolers can “read” them back to their parents!
Renesha supervises book selection
Making his selection–Honk: The Story of a Prima Swanerina
What happens when college students and preschoolers read together?
We are proud of our partnership with Covenant Community Care! Their Michigan Avenue clinic serves many Spanish speaking families, so RX for Reading established a Clinic Library with English, Spanish, and bilingual options for children as well as English and Spanish educational materials for parents.
Many thanks to Covenant pediatrician Betsy Cherian, MD and Clinic Manager Claudine Mamo, RN and to University of Detroit Mercy undergraduates Casey Rhines and Nic Combs for setting up the library.
Special thanks to En Nuestra Lengua Literacy and Culture Project for their generous donation of Spanish and bilingual books! En Nuestra Lengua is a no-cost Saturday Spanish-language academic program that brings together the local community, Spanish-speaking children, their families and veteran educators—all working as a team to counteract the significant Hispanic academic achievement gap. The families in En Nuestra Lengua donated hundreds of books to RX for Reading which allowed us to build our RX for Reading Covenant Library.
Thank you to the Arab American Chaldean Council for hosting our latest RX for Reading Clinic Library in their Behavioral Health Clinic on 7 Mile. The space is lovely, and as soon as the library was up and running Chastity picked out her book–Young Harriet Tubman–to read and take home!
Many thanks to University of Detroit Mercy undergraduates Joe Gifford and Sara Zawacki for setting up the library and to the Director of Behavioral Health for the ACC, Carmen Sarafa, MA, LPC.
We would like to give a HUGE thank you to Bryant Middle School in Dearborn for donating over 1,500 children’s books to RX for Reading Detroit! The Bryant Student Council organized and held a book drive throughout March to promote literacy and celebrate March is Reading Month. The students also collected financial donations, which were donated to the RX for Reading Virtual Book Drive.
Special thanks to the students who led the event, to Bryant teachers Lynda Mualem and Liz Magee, and to the many families who participated!
Thank you to the Bryant Student Council!
Working on the book drive.
Getting the word out–the RX for Reading Display Case at Bryant.
We are thrilled to announce our latest RX for Reading Clinic Library at the Nolan Family Health Center in Highland Park! All kids who come to the clinic are invited to read books in the waiting room and pick a book to take home. A starting collection of 275 books fit on this bookcase–RX for Reading will deliver more as soon as they are needed.
Thank you to Detroit Community Health Connection and Clinic Manager Dahlia Lyons for helping us make it a reality!
Pictured from left to right: Dina Bolos, CSR; Dahlia Lyons, RN; Shania Hughes, LPN; Joy Jackson, LPN.
We are thrilled to have a regular partnership with the phenomenal teachers and students at Emmanuel Head Start. Every two weeks UDM students read with the morning and afternoon classrooms, and afterwards each of the kids gets to pick out a new book to take home. Here, Renesha, Emma, and Taylor read to a captive audience.
Experience “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day” in the theatre AND raise money for kids’ literacy in Detroit! A portion of all RX for Reading ticket voucher sales will go to purchase books for kids in our community.
Every ticket we sell earns money for RX for Reading—enough to purchase one new book with each kid/student ticket sold and five new books for each adult ticket sold. The show is for kids age 3+ and adults. The first 1,000 kids who attend the show will receive a free copy of the book.
Alexander opens March 20 and runs 10 performances through March 29 in the University of Detroit Mercy Grounds Coffeehaus in the UDM Student Center! March 20 and 27 at 7:00 pm March 21 and 28 at 10:30 am, 1:30 pm and 5:00 pm March 22 and 29 at 2:00 pm
To purchase these special RX for Reading ticket vouchers, contact RX for Reading at 313- 993 -1081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The process is simple: You purchase ticket vouchers from RX for Reading with cash or a check ($20 for adults, $10 for kids and students). You call the theater to reserve spots at the performance you want to attend; when you get there, trade in your voucher for the ticket! Group discounts are available.
Welcome to the latest RX for Reading Book Nook at Children’s Health Centerin Midtown Detroit! Thank you to pediatrician Dr. Erin Walton-Doyle, MD and to Advantage Health Centers/Detroit Health Care for the Homeless for hosting the RX for Reading Library. All patients and families are invited to pick a book to take home at the end of their check-up!
We are thrilled to highlight our latest RX for Reading Library at the University of Detroit Mercy Pediatric Dental Clinic. Every patient at the clinic is invited to pick a book to read and take home, and parents of new patients are given RX for Reading educational materials about the importance of reading and dental health.
Special thanks to Dr. Margaret Kim, DDS for spearheading the library and to all of the providers and staff at the UDM Dental Clinic for taking care of their patients’ bodies AND minds! Pictured below are clinic patients José and Marilyn and dental assistants Nakia Pace, Vernice Alexander, Lori Rosier, Simona Williams, and Theresa Richardson and dental hygienist Carolynn Zeitz (second from left).
Thank you to Bucket Fillers Inc. for donating 25 incredible books to RX for Reading Detroit. Carol McCloud first published “Have You Filled a Bucket Today” in 2006. Since then, it has sold over 1,000,000 copies and, with the other “bucket books,” spread the message of compassion, love, and making the people around us feel cared for. We are grateful we can help spread the message to 25 classrooms and community partners in Detroit!
University of Detroit Mercy undergraduates Ranen Yousif, Nicholas Azzo, Kathia Diaz, and Marisol Angulo celebrated reading with the first graders and preschoolers at Gesu Elementary School. All of the students picked a new book and homemade bookmark to take home, and the undergraduates and elementary students talked about their career goals and shared love of reading. One of Ms. Piotrowski’s first graders is planning on running for president in 2036; she has Dr. Harrison’s vote!
Other UDM students who volunteered at Gesu over the semester include Taj Kooner, Thomas Quan, Maegan McFarland, Megan Sand, Candace Barron, Courtney Baird, Nolan Patel, Teresa Miranda-Chavez, Lauren Berlin, Samantha Carnaghi, and Jacquelyne Zolynsky.
The 1st graders check out their new books!
So many choices!
Ranen and Nick get things ready for the kids.
Kathia and Marisol after serving the kids a celebratory snack.
One of our wonderful books (by National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson) with “book worm” bookmarks by Samantha Carnaghi.
University of Detroit Mercy Nursing majors Amanda Barnes, Chantel Ellis, and Veronica Jenei read with the incredible kids at Peggy’s Place Head Start and helped them each pick a new book to take home. It was almost as fun for the preschoolers as it was for the college students. Thank you to the teachers and students at Peggy’s Place!
UDM student Chantel Ellis reads an RX for Reading book with a Peggy’s Place preschooler.
The kids at Peggy’s Place pick their new books.
Thank you to the wonderful teachers and students at Peggy’s Place!
RX for Reading delivered 175 children’s books, Raising Readers pamphlets, and our signature Dr. Seuss Reading poster to Grace Community Church Clinic, run by Covenant Community Care.
Each of the Covenant clinics offer medical, dental and behavioral health care regardless of patients’ ability to pay. All children at the clinic are invited to pick a book that they can take home with them to keep. Many thanks to the clinic staff and University of Detroit Mercy student Juanita Brown, who delivered the books and set up the RX for Reading Library.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!” Dr. Seuss
“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.” Neil Gaiman
This Giving Tuesday, RX for Reading set a goal. $500 of new donations. $500 in matching donations. $1,000 to purchase new books for kids in Detroit.
As of the night before Giving Tuesday, we have met our goal! Let’s set a new goal. This Giving Tuesday, let’s raise as much money as we can raise, buy as many books as we can buy, take as many kids as we can to other worlds!
RX for Reading Detroit has been awarded a University of Detroit Mercy Mission Micro Grant to build and install a Little Free Library in our UDM neighborhood.
This spring, we will “plant” our library and fill it with children’s books for families in our community to enjoy. The UDM Little Free Library will be installed on the Gesu Green, a community-wide play space and gathering spot across the street from the university. The labor to build the library has been generously volunteered by Terry Wetherington, husband of Emilie Wetherington, Director of UDM’s Student Success Center. Contact us if you would be able to make a second library for our neighborhood! RX for Reading is helping Make Detroit the Little Free Capital of the World.
One of the goals of RX for Reading Detroit is to create reading relationships between college students and younger kids in Detroit. Reading together is one of the best ways to model a lifetime love of reading!
In 2012, over 500,000 Michigan children lived below the federal poverty threshold (annual income of $23,284 for a family of four). Over 1,000,000 lived in low-income families (annual income of $46,566 for a family of four).
In the city of Detroit, 57% of our children live in poverty. 80% of our children qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did unto me.”
Our partnership with First Bookand the ScholasticFamily and Community Engagement program helps STRETCH our resources. With the support of these organizations, your $50 donation buys 20 new books for kids in our community! Click on the Donate! page to make a tax-deductible charitable contribution.