Winter 2014

Letter from the Executive Director

by: Dr. Gabrielle Miller

In 1999 the Euro was established, SpongeBob SquarePants premiered on Nickelodeon, and no one was quite sure what would happen to our electronics as we entered Y2K. And fifteen years ago, Peninsula Community Foundation, the San Mateo County Public Library and multiple local partners launched a small innovative enterprise called Raising A Reader.

The idea was simple. Do more than just give books away in the hopes they will be read. Make a measurable change in the lives of children by helping families develop the habit of sharing books at home….and, in doing so, help all children enter school with the language and literacy skills they need to succeed.

With a model which is based on peer-reviewed research, uses a practical but innovative ‘systems change’ theory of change, and a strong commitment to evaluation and program improvement, Raising A Reader holds a unique place in the nonprofit literacy world—a validated, scalable, and cost effective means to improve the literacy outcomes of participating children.

Raising A Reader is now a program which serves children aged 0-8, has a collection of nearly 1,000 carefully selected titles, and special collections in more than 12 different languages designed to reflect specific community needs.

In 2013 Raising A Reader reached its 1 millionth child…a milestone which represents the work of more than 150 affiliated agencies who, in turn, reach families through more than 2,500 locations across the nation. Each of these agencies has demonstrated their commitment to program fidelity, improvement and organizational growth.

Also in 2013 Raising A Reader was recognized by the US Department of Education as an Innovative Approach to Literacy—continued acknowledgement that family involvement and home literacy practices play a critical role in academic success; and that programs like Raising A Reader are an important way to help families support children.

As we begin 2014 Raising A Reader will continue to grow, learn, and develop new ways to help children and families build the literacy habits essential for reading acquisition and which are likely to become homework habits essential for school success.

All of Raising A Reader’s success is the result of our founders, founding donors, affiliates, and most importantly the families who respond when a child with a little red bag looks at them and says “Read to me…”

The Beginning

15th_anniversary_logo_resizedAround 1997, a group of early childhood leaders in San Mateo County, CA connect to discuss how to further early literacy in their community and create a committee to develop a plan. By 1998, funding is secured to launch a campaign called Raising A Reader, a take-home Book Bag Program. A pilot of the program targets child care centers (children ages 3 and 4) launches on March 3, 1999 and reaches over 500 families. Formal training, The Art of Reading, is designed and implemented in the spring for participants and staff in the community. Learn More

Funder Highlight: Bernard A. Newcomb

Since 1999, Raising A Reader has had a number of founding donors that were instrumental in launching the organization and  Newcomb_logosupported the expansion of the program throughout the country.  One of these angel funders is Bernard A. Newcomb. Bernie hailed from Oregon and ended up in the Bay Area in the 1970s. As one of the founders of E*Trade, he was in the midst of Silicon Valley during its infancy as well.  In a 2008 interview with the Gazette-Times in Oregon Newcomb called his legacy as co-founder of E*Trade “a 14-year overnight success story”. and said much of it was being in the right place at the right time.” Newcomb retired in the late 1990s and founded a charity organization, the Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation. Learn More.

Affiliate Highlight: Shasta County

three_kids_with_bookIn 2004, the Shasta Family YMCA in Shasta, CA actively pursued a grant that would allow them to create a community-wide Raising A Reader program in Shasta County.  To guide the implementation of the program, the RAR coordinator, Linda Delles, created a steering committee that included representatives from the local Head Start, the County Office of Education and other stakeholders. Under the leadership of Linda and the steering committee, the program flourished. They were able to secure funding to create a Raising A Reader program that would serve a total of 16,481 children from 2005-2010 in the Shasta area. Once the grant ended, Linda needed to figure out how to ensure the continuity of the program. She turned to the steering committee. Because the committee members and their organizations had been deeply involved from the beginning and saw the immense value of the Raising A Reader program in their schools, both the Shasta County Office of Education and the Shasta County Head Start have become affiliates and are continuing to provide RAR programming in their schools. RAR is still going strong in Shasta County. In 2014, we are entering seven new Kindergarten classrooms as part of their school age expansion.



The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the The Big Hungry Bear
By: Don and Audrey Wood

The Little Mouse_Red Ripe Strawberry and_Big Hungry Bear

Over the past 15 years, Raising A Reader has not only experienced a huge growth in the number of children we serve and the communities that we reach, but our book collection has also grown and expanded as well! The RAR book collection currently contains close to 1000 active titles across 74 unique book sets. One of the first books that was added into the collection in 1999 and continues to still be a favorite amongst our affiliates is, The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR written by Don and Audrey Wood. This charmingly cute book… Learn More

Education Article: Extra-textual talk in shared book reading: a focus on questioning. (Early Child Development and Care. Vol. 182, Issue 9, 2012)

By Ann Anderson, Jim Anderson, Jacqueline Lynch, Jon Shapiro, Ji Eun Kim

In this 2012 study published in the Journal of Early Child Development and Care, researchers investigated the frequency and types of questions asked when  parents read with their four-year-old children.

Current Partners

Always Dream Foundation
Bank of the West
Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation
Capital One Financial Coorporation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Cisco Systems Foundation
Community Foundation of the Monterey Peninsula
Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
Harden Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Masons of CA
Masons of Oregon
Monterey Peninsula Foundation
Sobrato Family Foundation
T. Rowe Price
Audrey & Robert Talbott Foundation
Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation
Wright Family Foundation

and individuals like you….

Local Support

Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park, CA will donate 6% of on any non-discounted to Raising A Reader. If in-store, just mention Raising A Reader at checkout. Online purchases can also be made at through the Community Partners Nonprofits page.