Mayor Roth, Hawai‘i Island launch “Reach Out and Read” program
Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth kicked off a “Reach Out and Read” campaign alongside Hawaiʻi County’s new Early Childhood Resource Coordinator, Angela Thomas, in Hilo on Tuesday morning.
The “Reach Out and Read” program aims to put books into the hands of families with young children to encourage a love of reading and support early learning, according to county officials.
Tuesday’s first delivery was to Dr. Angela Lind at the Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center. Her son, Mario, was the first to get a book and special reading by Mayor Roth.
“Fostering lifelong learners is a key component to creating a sustainable future for our island that will allow families to thrive and succeed here for generations to come,” said Mayor Roth. “Our administration is committed to solving the many issues plaguing our keiki and their parents and will continue to invest in programs that build childcare capacity, bolster workforce development in the childcare industry, and support the health and wellbeing of our local families.”
“Reach Out and Read” is a national nonprofit that distributes children’s books to families through pediatricians and health clinics.
Four offices on the island are already involved in the program, and now, with Hawai‘i County’s funding and support, it is possible to offer the program to all pediatricians or other practitioners who see babies/young children for wellness checks.
The first shipment of 5,000 books was received last month and is being divided with 2,500 available for distribution on each side of the island.
Additionally, Thomas has convened a working group of early childhood education providers and professionals who will provide input into the island’s needs.
“It has been some time since early childhood professionals have been called on to participate in their industry initiatives,” said Thomas. “This initiative has been prioritized because of our declining third-grade reading scores. Reading at grade level in third grade is an important marker for future success, not only in school but also in life. Giving our keiki every chance to succeed is a priority for this administration.”