Today is World Read Aloud Day (WRAD), which aims to bring global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. I’m re-posting Ethan’s WRAD post from last year (click here to view), where he describes the importance of this day and reads aloud a favorite picture book. He also expresses his hope that on this day in 2017 (today!), all patients at CHOC Children’s are being read to. We’re not quite there yet, but we are getting closer to launching Phase 1 in the hospital, which is “Reading Aloud in Every Room”. Please consider donating a book from ECBC’s Amazon Wish List (click here) to help the kids at CHOC experience the joy and power of reading aloud!
It has been over a year since we launched Ethan and Choco’s Book Club (ECBC) with the MaxLove Project, and we are excited to share some of the highlights of 2016 as well as our anticipated next steps. After launching ECBC on social media in December 2015, we quickly formed an amazing core team to start planning and fundraising, and shortly afterwards we received the green light from the CHOC Foundation to move forward with building a program at CHOC. We created a website, a fundraising page, a Facebook page, an awesome logo (thanks to artist Mike Kungl), and merchandise and promotional materials (thanks to graphic designer Emily Frye). And since then, we’ve been working hard to raise money, collect books, coordinate plans for starting up in the hospital, and build awareness and make connections in Orange County. Last year we raised over $15,000 in funds and collected over 5000 new books. Of these 5,000 books, 1500 are hardcover books for our permanent Lending Library, and 3500 books comprise the start of our Gifting Library — which is a separate collection of largely paperback books for patients in isolation who (per hospital protocol and infectious disease restrictions) cannot borrow books from the Lending Library. Ethan is proud that he completed Book Look #366 of his 2016 Book Look Challenge — his self-imposed challenge that he announced on the first day of 2016 to make a video of a featured bookthat he wants donated for every day of the year. Daily Book Looks were posted and linked to ECBC’s Wish List on Amazon, and books of all types and for all ages came in the mail almost daily all year long — making up the majority of our Lending Library to date. As part of our efforts to book-raise and build awareness, we set up our first booths at several events at Ethan’s elementary school, and then we enjoyed participating in larger events in the broader OC community, first at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival and then at a MaxLove holiday event at SOCO and the OC Mix in Costa Mesa. A few months ago, Ethan was inpatient for the first time in a while, which reminded him just how much books and reading are needed at the hospital. So he took advantage of being inpatient and spontaneously hosted a show on the CHOC radio station — where he introduced himself and his mission to build a library at CHOC, read aloud a few favorite books, and gave away about 30 books to patients. These were the first ECBC books to be put in the hands of kids at CHOC, and Ethan said “it was so awesome to finally get to share my love of reading with other kids at CHOC”! Near the end of the year, a terrific article about Ethan and ECBC was published on the front page of the Orange County Register (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/children-736490-books-book.html) — which was a definite highlight of the year and resulted in increased book donations and connections in the community. We finished the year with a Launch Party at the hospital, where we held storytime with five local wonderful children’s book authors, gave away 250 books to patients, and crafted books with MaxLove’s Therapeutic Arts program. It was awesome to end the year with so many books and so much reading happening in the lobby at CHOC!
Without doubt, the greatest highlight of the past year was the tremendous support that ECBC received from so many individual donors, kids in action who created their own booths to raise money or conducted book drives at their own schools, teachers who organized class projects that resulted inbook donations, and support from our first book publishers and charitable organizations. We’re so grateful for the support of our most significant donors — Mary and Vaso Adzich, Jen and Jon Haft, Carol and Howard Hay, the Irvine Kiwanis Club, Kris Mauger/Burnham Insurance, PBS SoCal, Serge Melkizian/Quintus Investment Counsel, and the anonymous donors who generously gave at MaxLove Project’s 2016 Farm to Fork dinner. We’re also starting to create a growing list of ECBC Thrive Partners who have committed to providing ongoing financial or book support. Our initial Thrive Partners include Sharon and Tod Paris, Barry Ackerman, KidsRead and Milk & Bookies (two terrific nonprofit organizations that give books to kids in need); the local Tustin bookstore Once Upon a Storybook (which collects books in the store daily and joins us at many community events); Saddleback Educational Publishing; Girl Scout Troop #3115; Coventry Court Health Center; and Tarbut ‘V Torah Community Day School (our first Orange County School to commit to book-raising on an annual basis for ECBC after holding a very successful book drive in December). We are so honored to have received so much support in our first year!
With a successful year behind us, we are excited for 2017! We just received approval of a new volunteer position in the Child Life Department at CHOC — called ECBC Bedside Reader. This means that we can now finally start the four to five month hospital volunteer approval process, with a goal to launch Phase 1 of ECBC, called Reading Aloud in Every Room, midway through 2017. By the end of 2017, we hope to launch Phase 2, “Books in Every Room”, which is our Lending Library on mobile book carts. We will continue with our efforts to collect new books, and Ethan plans to do a monthly Title Talk (click here to check out his first Title Talk) that shares on social media the titles of some of the books that we need for the library (which will continue to be linked to our Wish List on Amazon). In the coming months as we are preparing to start the first two phases of the program in the hospital, we hope to renew momentum for financial donations after focusing much of the past year on collecting books and resolving organizational matters. We will be establishing new financial goals and plan on reaching out to our past donors and other potential individuals and organizations to help us meet them. We will also be working hard to continue to form enduring partnerships with individuals, schools, corporations, and both youth and adult charity groups, since the unique demands of a hospital-based library mean that we will have significant built-in loss of books (largely due to the gifting of books to all patients in isolation). Just to be able to read aloud to kids in isolation means gifting books to them! Creating a sustainable library at CHOC will depend on significant ongoing support from the community, so we hope this year many more ECBC Thrive Partners will join our efforts to bring reading to Orange County’s hospitalized kids! (You can click on the link to the fundraising site below to make a one-time or recurring donation.) We hope that 2017 will close with the first two phases of ECBC off the ground, patients enjoying books and reading on a daily basis, more partners and significantly more funds, and the road paved for us to start thinking about our long-term goal of building a stand-alone full-service library for CHOC patients. Just recently, Ethan commented “how cool it is that ECBC started out as just an idea, then a dream…and now it’s actually happening.” We can’t wait to continue to make strides in 2017 to make books and reading a core part of the care that CHOC patients receive!
Ali Posner (ECBC Co-Founder)
Ethan Posner (ECBC Co-Founder and Leukemia Warrior),
and the ECBC Team.
To learn more or support ECBC:
- Email: ECBC@maxloveproject.org
- Website: www.ethanandchocosbookclub.com
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ethanandchocosbookclub/?pnref=story
- Fundraising Page: http://bit.ly/EthansBooks (for one-time and recurring monetary donations)
- Amazon Wish List: https://amzn.com/w/BLD7UEVPPPO (for book donations)
How awesome is this?! A couple weeks ago, fifth graders at Tarbut V’Torah (TVT) organized a book drive at their school book fair, and the Lower School collected a total of 250 new, high-quality books for the library that we are building at CHOC Children’s Hospital! Afterwards, the school invited Ethan to their campus and presented him with the books in a very special school assembly. Afterwards, I sent a thank-you note to the school, and in return I received an amazing note from Laura Roth, the principal of TVT’s Lower School. Principal Roth’s note expressed TVT’s commitment to hold an annual book drive to benefit ECBC and CHOC. We are so excited to have our first Thrive Partner school (a commitment to ongoing annual support)! Thank you TVT! Click here to view Principal Roth’s letter: tarbut-ecbc-thrive-partner-letter
I am sharing this letter in hopes that TVT can hopefully inspire other Orange County schools to get on board and support ECBC’s efforts to build a library for Orange County’s hospitalized kids. Building and maintaining a hospital-based library has some unique demands that include significant built-in loss of books, so we will need to have ongoing support from a variety of sources to create a sustainable library. We’re hoping that Orange County schools can be one key source of support!
Please consider helping your school join Tarbut and become an ECBC Thrive Partner school! Here are four ways your school can help:
- Hold a new book drive at your school. Perhaps get your student leadership on board to organize a school-wide effort.
- Collect new books for ECBC as part of your school’s regular book fairs.
- Organize a book collection effort for ECBC through your school’s Scholastic Reading Club program.
- Collect needed items for Ethan’s Read+Think+Thrive Boxes, which will go to patients at CHOC who are in isolation and can’t borrow books from the Lending Library, as well as to kids battling cancer and life-threatening conditions across the country who have limited access to books. Contact ECBC at ECBC@maxloveproject.org to receive our R+T+T Box Needs List.
* Remember, per hospital policy, all books must be brand new.
Thank you again, TVT, for being our first ECBC Thrive School!
Ethan had so much fun launching Ethan & Choco’s Book Club at CHOC Children’s Hospital yesterday! We had “Real Author Read Aloud” for around 2 hours and gave away approximately 250 books! Thank you MaxLove Project for letting us join your amazing Be Super Holiday Party, and thank you to Child Life at CHOC for hosting
us! We’re so grateful for the ongoing support of Susie Alexander and Once Upon a Storybook, Barry Ackerman and KidsREAD, and Courtney Collins and Milk & Bookies. And, we were so fortunate to be able to provide storytime by five wonderful children’s authors: Alane Adams, Stacia Deutsch, Sheri Fink, C.W Greunig, and Dan Paley — thank you! Finally, thank you to Alanni’s Gift of Words Club for your donation of so many copies of such a beautiful picture book (Wookiwoo, I love you). We loved seeing all the reading and so many books in the lobby at CHOC!
We are so excited for today’s article about Ethan & Choco’s Book Club in the Orange County Register! Thank you to Theresa Walker for writing such a terrific article! Click HERE for the link to the online version
We didn’t manage to get our hands on a printed newspaper until this evening…and when we did, Ethan was so excited to see that he actually made the front page (I was pretty excited too)!! That was such a great surprise!!
Because it’s not mentioned in the article, I’d like to acknowledge the amazing support of the organizations that have helped ECBC to get off the ground so far. We’re so grateful for Audra Wilford and the MaxLove Project, which has partnered with us to provide invaluable organizational support and is doing tremendous work to offer whole body wellness programs and anti-cancer nutrition that helps kids battling cancer to thrive through treatment and well beyond. I’d also like to acknowledge Susie Alexander and the Tustin bookstore Once Upon a Storybook , which has promoted, supported, and donated books to ECBC each month since our launching last December. We’re also grateful for the substantial book donations from Milk and Bookies, Barry Ackerman and Kids READ, PBS SoCal, Kris Mauger Allison and Burnham Benefits, and DOGObooks.com. And, we are grateful for the support of the Kiwanis Club of Irvine, as well as the Kiwanis clubs of Orange County for their initial donation and pledge of future support. Finally, thank you to Tod and Sharon Paris and the Adzich Family for your significant monetary donations, and all of the individual donors who have donated money and books over the past year. We’re so grateful for all of the donations thus far, and yet this is just the very beginning of a long-term effort! We will need significant ongoing monetary and new book donations in the months and years to come in order to create a sustainable library for hospitalized kids in Orange County. To donate money, you can visit our fundraising site at http://bit.ly/EthansBooks, and to donate new books, you can visit our wish list on Amazon at https://amzn.com/w/BLD7UEVPPPO.
Since we launched fundraising efforts for Ethan & Choco’s Book Club in December 2015, we’ve been working hard to raise money, collect books, build awareness and make connections in Orange County, and coordinate plans for starting up in the hospital. Our first official ECBC event at CHOC is a launching party planned for December 9th, where we plan to give away new books, have a few local authors read aloud, and engage patients in book-related crafting. Our hope is that shortly thereafter, at the start of 2017, we will begin implementation of phase 1 in the hospital, which is “Reading Aloud in Every Room” — where trained volunteers will visit patient rooms to read aloud and promote literacy skills, conversations, and good thinking. After getting this initial phase off the ground, we hope to move quickly to phase 2, which will involve mobile book carts visiting patient rooms and the start of a Lending Library at CHOC. We are excited to finally be approaching a start date at CHOC!
Ethan unfortunately had to be admitted at CHOC on Tuesday due to a fever and critically low blood counts (his absolute neutrophil count is 0, meaning he has no ability to fight infection). It is his first time being inpatient since before we launched ECBC, and being here reminds him just how much books and reading are needed at the hospital. As always, he sees patients on screens and on devices — but it’s nearly impossible to see anyone with a book! While visiting the hospital radio station on Thursday (his favorite place to when he’s here), Ethan turned to me and said,”Mom, can I just do something for ECBC now, since I’m at the hospital anyway?” What a great idea — why not take advantage of us being here and get some books into kids’ hands, even if informal and impromptu?! So we made a plan with the radio station manager for Ethan to host a show, cleared it with Child Life, and I rushed home to get a pile of new books from our Gifting Library. And at 4:00 on Thursday, Ethan went on air at the hospital (which goes into patient rooms)!! He introduced himself and the mission of ECBC, read aloud two of his favorite books, and showed off book titles that he was giving away. About 15 kids ended up coming down to the station to choose books, and afterwards Ethan gave away another 15 books to oncology patients on the 5th floor. Ethan says “it was so awesome” to finally get to share his love of reading at CHOC, and he can’t wait to do more! Per the invitation of the radio station manager, it looks like a regular radio show hosted by Ethan is in the works!
Thank you so much to Milk and Bookies for today’s tremendous book donation — more than 30 boxes and 2000 books. Wow!!! We are so grateful for your support and partnership!!
Here’s Ethan’s Daily Book Look #166, The Old Woman Who Named Things (by Cynthia Rylant). If you’re interested in donating and helping build a library at CHOC Children’s Hospital, you can go to our Wish List on Amazon.com. Items purchased from this list will be sent directly to Ethan & Choco’s Book Club. We’ve been receiving many used books recently. Please remember that per hospital policy, we can only accept NEW book donations.