Rx for Reading at César Chávez Early Elementary!

Lining Up!

César Chávez students lining up at their new Rx for Reading Library.

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!”

Cesar Chavez Free Community Library

The Lorax Library was sponsored by a generous donor in honor of Sara Zawacki Gifford, former Rx for Reading Student Coordinator, and her husband Joe Gifford.  The library was painted by Paige Fairchild, a student in the University of Detroit Mercy College of Business Administration.

“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!)


Boys Read

César Chávez students help organize the library. César Chávez Academy is a public charter school in Southwest Detroit. 74% of its students are English language learners.

“I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Arely Valencia, parent and one-on-one aide at César Chávez
Happy Reader

As one student put it, “I like the Lorax Library because you can keep reading.”

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.

Ana Barajas at Cesar Chavez

Detroit Mercy alumna Ana Barajas reading to students at the school’s Día celebration.

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! 

Wild Things Cake

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.

New Center Park 3

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.

Parkman Monster Library

Rx for Reading Free Library at the Detroit Public Library Parkman Branch.

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.

Achieve Charter Academy Book Drive

Two of our youngest book drive organizers!

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?

Hamtramck Neighborhood Center

Rx for Reading Library at Hamtramck Neighborhood Center, painted by design historian and educator Grace Vandervliet.

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.

Discovery Kids 2

Choosing books from the Developing K.I.D.S. library!

“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)

Hamtramck Neighborhood Center 2 cropped

Painting the library at Hamtramck Neighborhood Center. Hamtramck Neighborhood Center is our only community partner with not one but two libraries–they are shared by the kids and seniors who use the Center.

“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.

Hamtramck Neighborhood Center I

The Reading Lounge at Hamtramck Neighborhood Center.

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

Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation

Rx for Reading Library at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, painted by Beth Reeck, art student at the Stamps School of Art and Design. Last summer eleven local artists painted Rx for Reading community libraries at Stamps, a project organized by Rebekah Modrak, Associate Professor of Art at University of Michigan.

Delray Neighborhood House

Rx for Reading Library at Delray Neighborhood House, painted by Adrian Deva, painter and art educator at University of Michigan. Delray House offers kids in Southwest Detroit opportunities to develop physically, academically, and socially through their after-school program, playground, game room, museum of local artifacts, and even a miniature theatre!

Parkman Monster Library

An extra special Rx for Reading Library at Detroit Public Library, seen here with Crystal Jolly, Children’s Librarian of the DPL Parkman Branch. This “book monster” library was painted by Michigan artist David Zinn.

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

Nuestros NinosThank 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.UDM LFLThe 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.

UDM LFL with Megan Novell

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

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. Bosnjakovsi, 5th grade teacher at Dickinson West, Stuart Tucker, Hamtramck resident and Adjunct faculty of English at University of Detroit Mercy, and Rx for Reading Director Mary-Catherine Harrison.

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

Christ Church I
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!  

“Grow In Detroit” was our theme for this year’s Christ Church Reading Camp, and with the help of Rx for Reading Detroit, we found a spotlight book called Rooting for You. It is the story of a little seed in the ground who is experiencing change and growth in its life. The seed is in a dark place to start, but one that feels safe. As the seed starts to change shape, take root and grow upward, it runs into obstacles. The seed fears the unknown and hidden dangers, but with the help of its friends, pushes through it all to find the light! A meaningful book that tied together the children’s tending to their plants, hearing stories from real life urban farmers, and talking about their own fears of change and growth.
Rooting for You
Other books that the children read were The Enormous Potato, The Gigantic Turnip, Compost Stew, and Potatoes on the Rooftop, which includes a segment about Detroit’s urban farming. Also making an appearance were a juggler, story tellers, and members of Christ Church who take part in community farming. All in all, it was a tremendous week and we hope for the same great experience in 2017!
“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
Christ Church 2

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). 

Brightmoor Book SquadOn 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!

Hyacinth 3This 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.

Reading and writing is a key part of the Hyacinth Court summer program.  Each morning campers write in reflection journal and are encouraged to share their experiences in their communities and families.  They also read individually and in groups and discuss the books they have read and how central themes relate to their lives.
Hyacinth 4After reading and sharing books at camp this summer the kids will get to choose books they want to take home and keep. Thanks to the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency for including Rx for Reading in the summer fun!
Read more about the Youth and Family Services provided through Wayne Metro.

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.

Shekinah III

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.

Dia 6

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.

Dia 8

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!

Dia 3Dia 9Every day is a day for children and a day for books. Happy Día!


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.




It Takes a Village to Build a Village of Little Free Libraries!

School of Architecture students with some of the Little Free Libraries Rx for Reading will be distributing throughout the city.

UDM Architecture students with some of the libraries Rx for Reading will be distributing throughout Detroit.

What an incredible day!  Over 30 volunteers came together to make our latest literacy initiative a reality–building and painting 12 Rx for Reading Little Free Libraries that Rx for Reading will place with community organizations all over the city, including COTS Shelter and LA Sed Youth Center.  Rx for Reading will deliver each library with a collection of 250 books for kids and teens, helping community partners support reading and literacy for the families they serve.


John Mio of John Mio Woodworking not only volunteered his time to build the libraries, but also worked all day to help get them painted and ready for delivery.

John Mio and Mike Casey volunteered their time and expertise to build the libraries.  15 incredible volunteers from Kohl’s stores in West Bloomfield, Troy, and Westland, MI painted the libraries and sorted and packed over 1,250 children’s books to fill them.  UDM School of Architecture students finished the roof designs, which were created by local artist Rebekah Modrak.  UDM students helped at every stage of the process.

Kohl's believes that everybody has the ability to make a difference. Since 2001, over 1,000,000 Kohl's employees have volunteered their time to community organizations through the Kohl's Cares Associates in Action program, and Kohl's has supported their volunteers with over $97 million in grants to the nonprofits they have served.

Since 2001, over 1,000,000 Kohl’s employees have volunteered their time to community organizations through the Kohl’s Cares Associates in Action program, and Kohl’s has supported their volunteers with over $97 million in grants to the nonprofits they have served.


University of Detroit Mercy painter Ron Heurtebise helped direct the Kohl’s volunteer crew.


Fr. Gilbert Sunghera, SJ, with students in his Architecture studio course as they work on final touches.


Rx for Reading Executive Director Mary-Catherine Harrison and Student Coordinator Sara Zawacki.


The end result, ready for delivery!

Thank you to everyone who gave their time, talent, energy, and generosity to help build this village.  These little libraries will have an enormous impact in our community.

Reading in the City

Reading throughout the summer is the best way to prevent “summer slide” and go back to school ready to succeed.  Plus, it is a really fun way to spend summer in the city!

A camper and counselor read at the Minock Park Summer in the City Camp.

A Minock Park Summer in the City Camper with the ever-popular Clifford.

This summer RX for Reading partnered with Summer in the City, which offers free, 8-week camps for local kids in seven Detroit locations–Northwest Activity Center, Latino Mission Society, Delray Recreation Center, Ford LaSalle Park and Focus: HOPE, Pasteur Elementary School, Hamtramck Community Center, and Minock Park.  Campers get to read, play, do arts and crafts, sports, creative writing, and take Friday Field Trips throughout the city.

More summer reading at Minock Park.

More summer reading at Minock Park.

RX for Reading provided a box of writing paper and new and gently used books for all seven Summer in the City camps–750 books in all.  Campers got to read many of the books throughout the summer, and at “Finale Friday” kids chose whatever books they wanted to take home.

Summer in the City campers with some of their selections!

Summer in the City campers with some of their selections!

Our incredible RX for Reading volunteer and UDM School Psychology graduate student Beth Jordon with some of the books she brought to Finale Friday.

Our incredible RX for Reading volunteer and UDM School Psychology graduate student Beth Jordon.

Meet Mary Grahame Hunter--She said the highlight of her day was when a little girl chose "Mama Went to Jail for the Vote" (pictured here).  When she asked the little girl if she was sure she answered emphatically, "Yes... I'm positive proudly".  Mary also loved giving a little boy a book on Willy Mays because he said he loved baseball.  His grin stretched from ear to ear.

Meet Mary Grahame Hunter–She said the highlight of her day was when a little girl chose “Mama Went to Jail for the Vote” (pictured here). When she asked the little girl if she was sure she answered emphatically, “Yes… I’m positive proudly”. Mary also loved giving a little boy a book on Willy Mays because he said he loved baseball.  His grin stretched from ear to ear.

These girls are volunteers with Summer in the City.  Yeva, on the right, immigrated from the Ukraine when she was 4.  She said she had inspiring teachers that taught her the love of books, and that's why today she is a Sociology & Pre-med Sophomore at Amherst.  Mika, on the left, refused to read in grade school, but in middle school discovered Harry Potter and hasn''t stopped reading since.  She is now a sophomore at Oakland university.

These girls are volunteers with Summer in the City.  Yeva, on the right, immigrated from the Ukraine when she was 4.  She said she had inspiring teachers that taught her the love of books, and that’s why today she is a Sociology & Pre-med Sophomore at Amherst. Mika, on the left, refused to read in grade school, but in middle school discovered Harry Potter and hasn”t stopped reading since.  She is now a sophomore at Oakland university.

A Lola le encantan los cuentos!

Lola loves stories–A Lola le encantan los cuentos!

The little boy pictured here with his sisters and mother said as they started to walk away, "Mama, can I go back and sit in the van because I want to read my book?!"

This little boy, pictured here with his sisters and mother, said as they started to walk away, “Mama, can I go back and sit in the van because I want to read my book?”

RX for Reading at Cabrini Clinic

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our second RX for Reading Little Free Library, outside of St. Frances Cabrini Clinic, the oldest free clinic in the country.  

2015-07-21 14.08.34

Located at 1234 Porter Street in historic Corktown, Cabrini provides primary care, prescription assistance, and mental health care to uninsured patients, as well as offering community education classes like healthy cooking and yoga.  The library’s location is perfect, surrounded by community garden beds, next door to the Murphy Playlot, and around the block from Most Holy Trinity School.

Thank you to the Executive Director of Cabrini, Kelly Herron, MAPS, and Alisa Smith, DPN, Clinical Nurse Manager and University of Detroit Mercy alumna.  Alisa will serve as official library steward.  RX for Reading filled it to the brim with 100 books and delivered another 350 to help keep it replenished with great books for kids.

2015-07-21 14.08.51

Extra special incredible thanks to Americorps VISTA volunteers Erik Krieger and Maya Faison, who built and “planted” the library for RX for Reading Detroit.  They have created something new and lasting for this Detroit neighborhood!

2015-07-21 13.01.46

Material support for the RX for Reading Little Free Library was provided by a Mission Micro Grant from the University of Detroit Mercy.

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!

Thank you, Salem Elementary!

Thank you to Salem Elementary School and Principal Ray Metcalf for a generous summer donation to RX for Reading Detroit!  Not only did Salem donate great books, but they also gave six additional boxes of writing paper, building blocks, and counting tiles.  Salem’s supplies will make great “Back to School” packages as RX for Reading gears up for the fall and continues to promote literacy as the core of all learning.

Salem Elementary Field Day

Salem Elementary Field Day

Principal Metcalf!

Principal Metcalf!

Thank you, Bach Elementary!

Where do you get the best books for kids?  From kids!

Bach PawIn honor of March is Reading Month, Bach Elementary School ran a school-wide book drive for RX for Reading Detroit.  They set an ambitious goal: collect 1,000 books in one month, enough to create an RX for Reading Clinic Library and sustain it for one year.

Bach met that goal…and quadrupled it!  The kids, families, and teachers at Bach collected 4,033 books, enough to establish THREE RX for Reading Clinic Libraries.  With their hard work and generosity, RX for Reading was able to build libraries at the new Children’s Health Center in Midtown, the ACC Behavioral Health Clinic on Seven Mile, and the ACC Behavioral Health and Primary Care Clinic in Dearborn.

Special thanks to Elameno-Peace for their help Elameno-Corpsorganizing the book drive, the Bach Elementary 4th Grade Service Squad for their hard work collecting and sorting the books, and the Bach Elementary PTO for their support.  Elameno-Peace sponsored prizes for the three classrooms that collected the most books, and supporters of Bach and RX for Reading sponsored a $100 prize if Bach met its overall goal.  The RX for Reading Prize will be used to purchase books with characters from diverse backgrounds for the Bach Elementary Library.

This is what kids can accomplish when they work together to make a difference.  THANK YOU, BACH!

The 4th Grade Service Squad made the book drive a reality.

The 4th Grade Service Squad made the book drive a reality.  Here they are at the announcement of the book drive.

Members of the service squad collect books.

The Service Squad decorated and distributed collection bins and served as “ambassadors” to each classroom.  Each week, they collected and counted books and made announcements to the school about progress towards their goal.

RX for Reading Executive Director Mary-Catherine Harrison awards the RX for Reading Prize.  Ann Arbor musicians Gemini and storyteller Laura Raynor were on hand for the celebration.

RX for Reading Executive Director Mary-Catherine Harrison presents the RX for Reading Prize.  Ann Arbor musicians Gemini and storyteller Laura Raynor were on hand for the celebration.

Audrey and Ava represented the school at the March is Reading Month celebration.

The kids were excited about the prizes, but much more excited about working together for literacy and social justice.  Many of them picked out their very favorite books to contribute to the book drive and convinced siblings and friends to donate too.

Please contact us if you would like to make a donation to RX for Reading or are a school or community organization that would like to run an RX for Reading Book Drive!

Children’s Health Center has moved, and RX for Reading moved with them!

One of our very first RX for Reading Clinic Libraries has moved!  Children’s Health Center, part of Advantage Health Centers, is now located inside the Waller Health Center in midtown Detroit. CHC provides high-quality health care to under- and uninsured patients, offering care to children and their families.  CHC staff physician, Erin Walton-Doyle, MD, is board-certified in both Pediatrics and Internal Medicine.

Dr. Walton-Doyle knows, reading is essential to children’s health!  When the Children’s Health Center moved they packed up the RX for Reading Library and took it with them.  We just replenished the library with another 365 books so their pediatric patients can continue to pick out a book to take home at every single checkup.  Thank you to Dr. Walton-Doyle, the CHC staff, and all the kids and families at Children’s Health Center!

Christopher Boston and his Mom pick out a new book

Christopher Boston and his Mom pick out a new book

Thank you, Girl Scout Junior Troop 40001!

The Girl Scout Bronze Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Junior can earn.  It is awarded to a troop that works together to make positive change in their community and world.

To earn their Bronze Award, the girls in Troop 40001 decided to work together to support literacy in their community.  We are so grateful for their donation of over 2,000 children’s books to RX for Reading Detroit!  It was a privilege to work together to sort their books and prep them for delivery to two RX for Reading Clinic Libraries in Southwest Detroit.  What an incredible group of young people!

Girl Scout Junior Troop 40001 with RX for Reading Executive Director Mary-Catherine Harrison

Girl Scout Junior Troop 40001 with RX for Reading Executive Director Mary-Catherine Harrison and some of the books they collected. 

RX for Reading Detroit can only do the work we do because of organizations like Girl Scout Troop 40001.  If you have books to donate or if you are part of a community organization that would like to run an RX for Reading Book Drive, please contact us.  We have had Book Drives organized by preschools, elementary and middle schools, churches, libraries, even a yoga studio!  Book Drives can be as big or little as you want, and RX for Reading provides all the materials you need.

Thank you to Girl Scout Junior Troop 40001 for your work on behalf of children’s literacy.  You helped make our community stronger!

Healthy Teens Read!

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!

The staff at the Healthy Teen Center with the RX for Reading Library!

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!

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

It Takes a Village

Thank you AmeriCorps, The LEAGUE Michigan​, and the Read n’ Give​ project for your support of RX for Reading Detroit​!

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.

Maya and Erik Read

Thanks, guys!

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.

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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:


We are nourished by food and books!

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.

FrederickWe are very happy to announce our first RX for Reading Library at a WIC Clinic, hosted by the Arab American Chaldean Council at 111 W. 7 Mile.  Here mothers and children will receive nourishment for the body and for the mind.

Little Allison picks her new book!

Little Allison picks her new book!

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!

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.

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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?


Nuestros Ninos: RX for Reading at Covenant Community Care

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.

Nuestros NinosCovenant Community Care

Gesu School Celebrates Reading!

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.

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!

RX for Reading Library at Grace Community Church Clinic!

Grace Moross Clinic_0RX 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.

Moross 1“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!”  Dr. Seuss

Moross 2


“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
Book Door
This Giving Tuesday, we raised almost $2,000 to purchase books or children in our community.
To all of our supporters:
Thank you, humbly and gratefully, for every book we are able to put in the hands of a child.  You open doors to the world.

Give Books on Giving Tuesday!

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.”  Neil Gaiman

Books on TreesThis 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!

Donate at our Crowdrise fundraising site!

RX for Reading awarded grant to build a Little Free Library!

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. 

Little free Library

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.