Vol. 7, Issue 3
July 2017
In This Issue
From the Executive Director
When I was growing up in the 1970's, my mother always used to say, "You're dumber in the summer." It turns out she was on to something. In fact, summer learning loss is a very real phenomenon, especially among lower income youth. On average, most students lose two months of math skills in the summer. And when it comes to reading? Low-income youth lose two to three months in reading skills while their higher-income peers make slight gains. And these reading and math losses add up. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 1/2 to 3 years behind their peers.
What can we do to improve the odds for our own children? Keep reading to them, every day. Take a trip with them to your local library, bring a book with you to the park or beach, read a chapter every morning when your child is used to learning and before other summer distractions take hold. Summer is a time I tend to read more. But I'm not going to lie -- my three children read less. Armed with good tips and the best intentions, I'm committed to make this summer about reading for all of us. I'll let you know how it goes!
Happy summer reading to all, 


Legislative Advocacy
on Behalf of 
Young Rhode Islanders
This spring, we collaborated with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Providence Talks, and other early childhood organizations to advocate for legislation to establish the Rhode Island Early Education Innovation Fund. T his   f und would  create a competitive grant process to  support evidence-based programs that promote parents as a child's first and foremost teacher during critical years in a child's development (birth-age 3).  Funded programs would focus on low-income and at-risk families, working to eliminate large discrepancies in young children's reading and math scores. Addressing these achievement gaps is critical for achieving the state's goal for grade level reading by third grade.
Since early January, w e lobbied  and testified for passage of the RI Early Education Innovation Act (Senate Bill 732 and House Bill 5498) . We were thrilled to be granted hearings in both chambers  ( House Finance and the Senate Education Committee ). Despite our best efforts, the legislation did not pass this year. But we will be back!
We are very grateful for the support of our bill sponsors ( Senators  Maryellen Goodwin, Paul Jabour, Gayle Goldin, and Ana Quezada and Representatives Joe McNamara, Grace Diaz, Carlos Tobon, and Helder Cunha ) and  w e look forward to working with them again during  next year's l egislative s ession, when we will continue to advocate for investing in Rhode Island' youngest citizens.
Read the bills here:  Senate Bill 732  and  House Bill 5498.

Curious George Teaches  RORRI Children about Financial Literacy
Citizens Bank volunteers busy at work placing stickers inside each book

During April, which is  Financial Literacy Month,  RORRI collaborated with Citizens Bank to help promote financial literacy at 19 community health centers across the state. At their well-visits, almost 400 children ages 3, 4, and 5 received a copy of Curious George Saves His Pennies . In this book, Curious George teaches a valuable lesson about counting money and saving it in his piggy bank for a special red train. To reiterate the lesson, we included a RORRI and Citizens Bank co-branded sticker promoting healthy financial habits (spend, save, and share) . Each book included a punch-out coin bank that children can assemble for their own pennies. 
It's never too early to start saving!

Reach Out and Read RI
 Collaborates to 
Address Absenteeism 
on Aquidneck Island

This summer, children at the four RORRI clinics on Aquidneck Island will be going home with a copy of How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? by Jane Yolen or Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten 
by  Joseph Slate, thanks to a collaboration with the 
Newport Learn to Read by 3G Coalition, RI Kids Count, and van Beuren Charitable Foundation . This project addresses the growing issue of chronic absenteeism in school by providing specific tips and tools for young children and families.

In 2015-2016, 14% of RI kindergartners were chronically absent from school  (missing 18 days or more). Reducing chronic absenteeism in the early grades is crucial as inconsistent school attendance can lead to lower reading and math skills. A custom made bookmark (shown here) provides tips to improve attendance and is included in all of the books. RORRI has been an active member of the RI READS: The Campaign for 3rd Grade Reading  since its inception, and is proud to have joined the Newport Campaign for Grade-Level Reading this past year.

Welcome Toll Gate Pediatrics!

Dr. Laura Dawson happily gives 14 month old Mackenzie her first RORRI book

Welcome to our newest site, Toll Gate Pediatrics in Warwick, which brings our total number of sites to 70 ! Toll Gate Pediatrics is a large practice with more than 2,200 well visits annually for our targeted population of children ages 6 months to 5 years old. T hey have hit the ground running! All 5 providers are Reach Out and Read trained, including Laura Dawson, MD; David Hunt, DO; Roger Mennillo, MD; Jessica Mullins, NP; Raymond Zarlengo, MD; and site coordinator Stacey Nickerson . We thank them their efforts to promote early literacy!

The Book Nook 

by  Aimee Falso
RORRI Business Manager

I am very excited to have recently joined Reach Out and Read RI. I was especially drawn to the organization and its mission after learning about the concept of "prescribing" a book to families! Instilling a love of reading in children is one of the most important things we can do as parents.  My husband and I always made certain we were reading in front of our children which helped make reading a habit in our home. Our boys are 9 and 12 now and even today, they read before bed nearly every night. While it has been a long time since we read to them, either my husband or I still sit with them each night when they read. It is a nice time for us all to power down the screens and spend time  togethe r (a lthough we occasionally struggle to get them to stop reading and go to sleep!).  

I've always loved children's books. And every time I have moved in my lifetime, I have brought along a box of my favorite books. When I finally felt that my boys were old enough not to tear the pages, I passed along some of these books to them! One book I've always held dear is a story I was introduced to through the PBS show, Reading Rainbow. Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain is a favorite not only because of the rhythm and repetition of the verses, but also because it is a story of a young boy living so differently from me. Reading has always opened up my mind to people and places beyond my imagination and I hope my children get that same experience.

Josh, Matthew, and Aimee enjoy bonding while
reading a book together

Prior to coming to RORRI, my career has included jobs in the sectors of education, non-profits , and small business, but my interest in literacy-based programs has been a common thread through them all. Some of my favorite jobs include being a pre-K teacher, a school librarian, a small business owner, and a retail book consultant. I also found ways to bring reading into the science-based family programming I developed for a local aquarium. 

When not working, I enjoy gardening, crafting, exploring at the beach, and
doing anything outdoors with my kids. Last year, I joined a book club with an old high-school friend and it has been wonderful to explore many different books and genres I otherwise would never have experienced.