Ethan & Choco's Book Club

Striving to make access to books and reading a core part of the care that SuperKids receive in the hospital, with the principal premise that literacy support for children fighting cancer and other life-threatening conditions can help promote cognitive development and social connections that are part of thriving through treatment and beyond


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Finally, a book bag delivery!

All ECBC program’s have been on hold for the past two months per CHOC Children’s Hospital’s COVID-19 rules, as all of our programs require our volunteers to visit the hospital. We all miss being able to get high-quality books and reading to patients, especially to the kids who are enduring long and/or hard battles. So, Ethan and I were thrilled yesterday when we had the opportunity to hand off a Read+Think+Thrive Bag to Ethan’s oncologist at CHOC so that she could deliver it to an eight-year-old girl who was just diagnosed with cancer. Not the usual way we receive book bag requests (the request came from Ethan’s oncologist during his own Zoom oncology visit) and not our typical delivery method (the hand-off happened in the CHOC parking lot outside the entrance to the oncology clinic, rather than by volunteer delivery inside the hospital)… but it felt so good to be able to give the the gift of reading to this young girl. We have so missed doing this!

As an aside, note our use of a “book bag” rather than “book box”. This is the first time that Read+Think+Thrive supplies (books and book-crafting items) were packaged in a bag! A few months ago, CHOC’s Infectious Disease department informed us that we could no longer use cardboard boxes, so we are now transitioning to a “Read+Think+Thrive Bag” rather than box. We will miss the kid/largely Girl Scout- decorated boxes, but we are super excited about this bag — which is more functional (kids can actually re-use it) and can provide a tangible reminder for kids to bring books with them to their hospital visits. We think they look pretty great too! (Thanks to Emily Frye!)


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February 2020 OPI book delivery

Re-stocking these shelves at CHOC’s Outpatient Infusion Center is always so fulfilling. Except for a basket of coloring sheets and crayons, all 14 of these shelf cubbies were always empty throughout Ethan’s treatment. We love being able to fill them regularly with quality children’s literature. # #OPIneedsbookstoo #ReadThinkThrive #ThriveAgainstCancer


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A Strong Start to 2020!

ECBC has had a great start to 2020 with a month of lots of bedside reading and gifting of books to patients in isolation. We finished off the month this week with a super delivery of books to CHOC’s Outpatient Infusion Center as well as two Read +Think+Thrive Box/Bag deliveries to six and thirteen year olds just diagnosed with cancer. News of every single pediatric cancer diagnosis is so devastating , but we love that we are able to provide even just a tiny bit of joy through high-quality children’s literature and read-aloud experiences. So grateful for our awesome bedside reader volunteers and our committed community! #Community #ExpertBedsideReaders #ReadThinkThrive #ThriveAgainstCancer #ThriveThroughTreatment

If you haven’t had a chance to view Ethan’s January Thank-You and Book Request Video, CLICK HERE to access the post, video link, and Amazon wish list.


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Thriving with Books and Reading in 2020

Happy New Year from ECBC! Slowly but surely, we are adding rich literature and read aloud experiences to the landscape of children’s lives at CHOC Children’s Hospital. With the support of our community in 2020, we plan to:

  1. Expand our Bedside Reading program so that it grows from two days a week and one floor  to three or four days a week and multiple floors, This would bring us a step closer towards our goal of offering high-quality read-aloud experiences to every patient every day they are in the hospital (which would meet the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics of fifteen minutes per day of reading — a practice that hospitalized kids, especially those battling life-threatening illness and not in school, so very need).
  2. Maintain our Mobile Book Cart program that provides new books to patients in isolation, also expanding to more days and more floors so that more patients have access to books. 
  3. Improve the Read+Think+Thrive Book Bag (from “box”) program so that (a) items are gifted in canvas bags rather than cardboard boxes (more functional, more sanitary); (b) book bags are more systemically reaching all new cancer diagnoses at CHOC; and (c) book bags reach more oncology patients beyond CHOC, such as at another children’s hospital in California or by online referral for kids diagnosed with cancer around the country. 
  4. Continue our book give-away events at CHOC, including our monthly Super Book Give Aways in the hospital lobby with MaxLove Project and our monthly deliveries to the Outpatient Infusion Center, as well as our special book gifting events including BOO-KS for Treats on Halloween and books and story time for CHOC patients living at Miracles for Kids’ Miracle Manor
  5. Launch Teens Thrive Reading Group, a new virtual book club for teens battling cancer, where teen patients read a featured book of the month and participate in an online book chat.  Teens will receive an “entry book” in the hospital, and thereafter participating members will receive Kindle e-readers and monthly e-books. The goal is to build the program at CHOC and then expand to include teen oncology patients throughout the U.S. 
  6. Develop additional ways to further enrich patients’ lives at CHOC through books and reading. Additional plans for 2020 include creating a Book Nook in the oncology playroom with access to high-quality books, volunteer-led story times and book-inspired crafting activities; hosting mini workshop sessions for CHOC parents with tips on reading aloud with their kids through treatment; and producing a radio show at CHOC’s Seacrest studios with read-alouds and literary-themed contests that are broadcasted in patient rooms.

The overall goal that underlies all that ECBC does is to help hospitalized kids thrive through treatment with high-quality books and literature-rich experiences. THANK YOU to our AWESOME community for being a vital part of our efforts! To support the needs of ECBC’s growing programs and help ECBC get off to a good start in 2020, you can:

  • Make a one-time or recurring monetary donation to ECBC. Click HERE
  • Purchase books from one of our wish lists on Amazon. Click HERE.
  • Plan to participate in BOOK IT 2020 on September 7, 2020 in Irvine — either as a walker/runner or as a sponsor. Please contact Fenny (fennykokenge@me.com) to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. 
  • Support ECBC while shopping on Amazon! Go to https://smile.amazon.com/ and select Ethan & Choco’s Book Club as the benefiting charity, or use this link which is already set up to support ECBC: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/83-2934289


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Last day to make a year-end donation!

There’s only one day left of 2019! If you’d like to make a year-end gift to support books and reading for kids at CHOC Children’s Hospital, click HERE to access the PayPal link. Now that ECBC is an IRS approved nonprofit 501(c)(3), all donations are tax deductible (EIN 83-2934289). Your donation in any amount makes a significant difference in contributing to kids’ thrivership through treatment, especially cancer and other life-threatening/life-altering illness. If you have already made a year-end book or monetary donation, THANK YOU!! 


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Officially 501(c)(3) Approved!

The IRS Letter of Determination just came in the mail — Ethan & Choco’s Book club is now an approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit public-benefit organization! This means that donors can deduct contributions that they make to ECBC. It also means that all contributions made directly to ECBC since its its date of incorporation (December 10, 2018) are now retroactively tax exempt. This is great news for ECBC, as it should make us a more attractive candidate for large/corporate donations  — which we need to keep up with our growing programs at CHOC! Thank you Susie Alexander for all the work you did to help make this happen!


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Bedside Reading is Officially 2x/Week at CHOC!

Too bad we can’t show faces b/c boy was this teen’s expression priceless — pure joy!

We are so excited that ECBC is now offering bedside reading by our awesome expert readers (mostly current and retired teachers and librarians) two times per week at CHOC Children’s Hospital! We are taking baby steps for sure towards our goal of being able to provide the opportunity for a read aloud to every patient every day — but our slow yet steady progress towards this goal means we are expanding our program thoughtfully, without compromising the quality of the reader or the read-aloud experience. Not all read-alouds are equal; there actually is an art to it!! And we’re proud to be providing quality read-aloud interactions with the best literature and good dialoguing. Which is so powerful especially for the many patients we read to who are not in school, receiving few if any other literature-based experiences, often spend substantial time on screens, may have a condition or be receiving treatment that affects cognition, need to escape the hospital walls, and/or just need to connect with another human being! Thank you to ECBC’s amazing (and growing) bedside reading team!!

If you didn’t make it to BOOK IT! last week (our annual charity run) and would like to support ECBC’s growing programs such as this one, the BOOK IT! online fundraising campaign will be running for another few weeks. Please CLICK HERE to donate!

If you missed the charity run and would like to hear Ethan’s brief welcome/update, please CLICK HERE or image above to view.


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Yesterday’s bedside reading highlight — Help ECBC keep this going and sign up for BOOK IT! 2019!

One of the best things about running ECBC’s bedside reading program at CHOC Children’s Hospital is the feedback from our expert read aloud volunteers after a shift at CHOC. The reports of “yes, I want a read aloud”, of the child’s reaction to the book, of the requests for “one more story.” These are kids that are often not in school, may spend significant time on screens, and sometimes have few to none literature-based experiences or opportunities to escape their hospital world. Yesterday, both bedside reader volunteers reported that the highlight of their day was their session with a 12- and a 13- year-old boy (the age/gender combo that tends to be the most reluctant to get a “yes” from). Both read aloud picture books with true stories — one of a World War 2 soldier’s friendship with a local Filipino girl (Tucky Jo and Little Heart, by Patricia Polocco) and the other a story of a con man who posed as a government official to “sell” the Eiffel Tower to scrap metal dealers before being caught and imprisoned (Tricky Vic, by Greg Pizzoli ). Two teen/tweenage boys, agreeing to being read, agreeing to picture books (albeit sophisticated ones that target an older audience), connecting with another, dialoguing about a new story with rich content …that’s what this is all about. Allowing books and reading to help kids THRIVE while at the hospital, not just get through their stay.

As of September, ECBC’s bedside reading program is expanding from one to two days a week — allowing us to reach more hospital floors and more kids. This is one of ECBC’s reading programs, among others, that demand a successful charity run and book drive next weekend! So PLEASE join us!! Click image below to register, donate, and more! Nine days to go…Please sign up now!!


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A Productive Day at CHOC

Today ECBC trained a terrific new bedside reader volunteer (Karen Malone Ottoson — so happy to have you on board!); gave away a bunch of new books to toddlers through teens at our Super Book Give-Away alongside MaxLove’s Be Super Party in the CHOC lobby; delivered 125 new books to the Outpatient Infusion Center; conducted bedside reading in oncology and neurology patients’ rooms; and offered patients in isolation books to keep from our mobile Gifting Library Cart. A busy, great day at CHOC for ECBC!

PLEASE help ECBC keep this all this going for Orange County’s hospitalized kids and join us at our 2nd annual charity run — BOOK IT! Racing for Reading for Hospitalized Kids! Race is in 23 days — sign up now!!!

Click HERE to register, donate, and more!