Families in underserved communities paying a visit to the doctor will soon find something special for them in the waiting room. Thanks to a joint effort between Reach Out and Read and Scholastic, 350,000 copies of a curated 35-book collection will be distributed to medical clinics nationwide, providing greater opportunities for parents to bond with their children through reading and foster early literacy.

Turning a Page, Opening a Window

Reach Out and Read’s $1 million collection, aptly dubbed 35 for 35, marks the nonprofit’s 35th anniversary of serving more than four million families annually, and its 27th year partnering with Scholastic as publisher, sponsor, and donor. This assortment of books features titles for ages up to five that represent a diverse roster of voices and cultures, enabling young children to broaden their reading experiences.

“Children from all backgrounds will open a book to find kids who look like them and see stories about families like their own—or they’ll discover a window into the lives and cultures of other kids and families,” said CEO Marty Martinez. He cited Read Out and Read’s research revealing that parents who frequently read to their children help to promote stronger familial bonds and instill a greater sense of self and well-being in their child. “But more than 60% of kids in low-income families don’t have books at home, and we can aim to reduce that number,” Martinez said.

Long-time partner Scholastic, whose Jefferson City, Mo., fulfillment and distribution center manages these boxed collections, tapped into its publisher network to curate a robust variety of books. “The titles come from a broad range of publishing houses—12 to be exact—from Scholastic, to HarperCollins and Macmillan,” said chief impact officer Judy Newman. “Together, Scholastic and Reach Out and Read have ensured that a wide range of diverse children and family structures were represented in these titles.”

Among the 35 for 35 books is We Are Here (Orchard, 2023), Tami Charles’s follow-up to All Because You Matter (Orchard, 2020) about Black and brown heritage and community. The author, who served as the keynote speaker at Reach Out and Read’s Leadership Conference on May 15, said she was delighted that her book was chosen to be part of the collection. “It’s an honor to see it stand alongside 34 beautifully diverse titles for children to enjoy during pediatric visits,” she told PW.

The first installment of 35 for 35 has shipped to Read Out and Read clinics in New York, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., with the remaining states to follow. For a complete list of books and authors, visit the Reach Out and Read website.