Rx for Reading at Regent Park Early Learning Center!

“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

Our latest Rx for Reading library couldn’t have cuter “customers”–the preschoolers at Regent Park Early Learning Center! Regent Park is one of seven Head Start centers run by our partner United Children and Family Head Start: https://www.ucfhs.org/.
Like all of our libraries, the kids and families at Regent Park are invited to choose books to take home, read, and keep.

Honors Biology major Chanel Bashi painted the kids’ custom “under the sea” library while finishing her final semester at University of Detroit Mercy.
Thank you, Chanel, and thank you to the families and staff at United Children and Family Head Start!

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!






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.

cp14As 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.cp11-croppedA 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!cp10

The Greatest Gifts are the Ones We Give

This holiday season, there is a whole lot of reading going on across Detroit!

Children's Health Center

Rx for Reading at Waller Health Center

In 2015, Rx for Reading distributed 20,000 books to babies, toddlers, kids, and teens in our community. At our 18 Rx for Reading Clinic Libraries, children at health, dental, and WIC clinics choose a book to take home at every visit. At our 3 Head Start partners, preschoolers read with UDM college students and choose a new book to take home every two weeks. And this fall, we expanded our Free Community Library Initiative by installing 12 Rx for Reading Little Free Libraries in community organizations across Detroit.

Detroit Center for Family Advocacy

Rx for Reading at Detroit Center for Family Advocacy

The Rx for Reading Free Community Library Initiative helps integrate literacy into the work of community organizations already serving children, teens, and families in our community.  Each library is delivered to its new home along with a collection of 250 books, and everyone visiting the libraries is invited to choose a book to read and take home.


Rx for Reading at LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development)

We could not be more proud to partner with these incredible organizations: St. Christine’s Soup Kitchen, LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development), Capuchin Services CenterCabrini ClinicCOTS Detroit, Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, Covenant House, Butzel Family Center, Don Bosco Hall Community Resource Center, Leland Baptist Church, and Spectrum Health’s Lincoln and Calumet Residential Treatment Facilities.

Don Bosco I

Rx for Reading at the Don Bosco Hall Community Resource Center

Rx for Reading Clinic Libraries and Little Free Libraries create community spaces that celebrate reading and allow thousands of children to choose books to read, love, and keep.

We are so grateful to each and every one of the generous donors and volunteers who made our work possible this year.  Hundreds of individuals gave their time, money, expertise, and books.

Bright Beginnings 2

Rx for Reading at Bright Beginnings

Thank you for giving the gift of reading to Detroit’s next generation of readers and leaders.




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.

UDM senior dental student David Posthumus reads with Julius and Ahlinius Grant.

UDM senior dental student David Posthumus reads with Julius and Ahlinius Grant.

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!”

RX for Reading Celebrates Summer Reading

RX for Reading was thrilled to spend a gorgeous Wednesday at the Southwest Solutions Thrive by Five Family Fun Fair in Patton Park Recreation Center.  We distributed over 350 brand new books to children and their families!

Books for all ages

Recent UDM alum Sarah Casnovsky (English major, Class of 2015) and School Psychology graduate students Beth Jordon and Jamie Reynolds helped kids pick out the perfect book and talked with parents about the value of reading together.

Beth Jordon is not only working towards her Psy-S at UDM, she is also single mom of four.  At the Thrive by Five event she was able to bond with other parents over the value of storytime.  Many of the parents were thrilled to find books in Spanish that they could share with their children, and Beth was able to talk with other moms about the adventures and fun that reading inspires.

As Beth puts it, “if you learn to read and love it, the world and such rich opportunities are wide open to you!”  Here is Beth and Dora the Explorer, with (of course) one of the Dora books kids could choose.

Beth Jordon and Dora, with one of RX for Reading's  Dora the Explorer book, of course!

Happy Summer Reading from RX for Reading Detroit!

The Core of STEM is Reading!

Thank you, United Children and Family Head Start, for inviting RX for Reading Detroit to your Math and Science Open House!

Math and Science Open House

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.

Kamari, rocking fashion and his new Sesame Street Book

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!

Linda Wesley, Community Relations Manager for Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, stopped by.Math and Science Open House 3


Math and Science Open House 4 cropped

Never Doubt.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”       Margaret Mead

The idea behind RX for Reading Detroit is simple. Literacy is a human right. Every child should be surrounded by books.

UDM student Alyssa Burgess reads with the kids at Emmanuel.

UDM student Alyssa Burgess reads with the kids at Emmanuel.

Over the 2014-2015 academic year, RX for Reading distributed 7,546 new and gently used books to kids and community partners in Detroit. We raised $6,500 to purchase new books in English and Spanish. We built 12 RX for Reading Libraries in low-income health and dental clinics, 4 classroom libraries for local Head Start programs, and our first RX for Reading Little Free Library in Gesu Community Green. We partnered with 6 Head Start and elementary classrooms for shared reading between college students and younger students, and over 50 UDM undergraduate and graduate students were involved in growing the organization—running book drives, sorting and cleaning books, setting up libraries, and reading with kids in our community.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are grateful for the incredible work of our community partners, for the generosity of our donors, and most of all, for each and every child in our community.

Together, we are raising readers, one book at a time.

Support Our Work Through Our Virtual Book Drive:


Thrive by Five!

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.

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.

20150418_123636 cropped

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!

What Happens When College Students and Preschoolers Read Together?

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 UDM freshman Renesha Smoot-Grafton, whom they call "Nesha"!

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.

UDM Business major Anna Mindling reads Doc McStuffins with the kids at Emmanuel

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!

What happens when college students and preschoolers read together?


A Celebration of Reading!

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!