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


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

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!! 


Leave a comment

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!


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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!!


Leave a comment

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!


Leave a comment

Thank you Troop #3244 for your amazing “Book Drive & Thrive Party”!

This week, Girl Scout Troop 3244 hosted an AWESOME support event to raise awareness and funds/supplies for ECBC’s Read+Think+Thrive Box program for kids who are diagnosed with cancer. This event, which the troop fully funded and organized, included:

  • A new book drive, with a children’s book off our book box wish list as the admission ticket
  • Stations to create items for our book boxes, such as bookmark decorating and box decorating
  • Stations that celebrate books and reading, including storytime, book inspired food crafting and treat, and a game station.
  • Guest speaker Ethan who was invited to share his story of founding ECBC
  • An ECBC patch for all Girl and Boy Scouts who attend

The girls also did a tremendous amount of preparation for their event, including formulating plans for the event and the activities at each station, making a book donation box, designing a flyer for advertising, making samples and signs decor for each station, distributing flyers to their community, designing and official patch for the event, various pre-event meetings to assign roles and cover all necessary. A tremendous group effort indeed!

The troop’s event resulted in the following donations:

  • 115+ new books from ECBC’s wish lists for our book boxes
  • $110 in donations for art supplies for the book boxes
  • 21 awesomely decorated book boxes
  • 35 laminated youth-made reading themed bookmarks
  • A girl scout/boy scout patch design for future scout events supporting ECBC, plus a donation of 50 patches to ECBC

What an absolutely terrific model this troop created for other girl scouts or philanthropic groups to use to support our book box program! THANK YOU to this terrific troop, and their amazing leader Jill Pang, for your hard work on this the las few months and for choosing ECBC for your Bronze Award project! We so appreciate you, and especially your creativity and inititiative in designing a new way to support our program — which helps our infant charity grow as an organization!

If your group is interested in hosting their own Book Drive & Thrive Party to support our Read+Think+Thrive Box program, please contact us at Ali@ECbookclub.com.


Leave a comment

ECBC’s book box program is finally set up to get boxes to EVERY new cancer diagnosis at CHOC!

While ECBC has been delivering Read+Think+Thrive (RTT) boxes to kids newly diagnosed with cancer at CHOC for some time, these deliveries have occurred sporadically and informally when ECBC happens to hear about a new diagnosis through other cancer nonprofits, others in the cancer community, or friends and community people who ask for a box for someone they know/love. Up until now, we have had a difficult time securing a point person at the hospital to communicate new diagnoses and deliver boxes — so it has been impossible for us to reach all patients, or even most of them. We now finally have an awesome CHOC staff from the Child Life Department who is excited to help us make this program a success at CHOC. With these first two boxes (both delivered to teenagers), ECBC will now learn about every child diagnosed with cancer at CHOC, from infant through teen and young adult, and we will aim to promptly deliver the boxes to the hospital while the child is still inpatient for his/her initial hospital stay. This is easier said than done, as there are numerous challenges that we are confronted with (e.g., there is currently no space for on-site storage of these boxes, so we will need to keep boxes offsite and deliver them individually as each diagnosis happens) — but we are so excited to get this program going more formally and reach more patients – so that every patient diagnosed with cancer has a fantastic mini-library of new, high-quality books to read!

Now that we will be receiving box requests more regularly and frequently, we could really use more help from kids in the community with these two creative tasks: (1) decorating the book boxes, and (2) completing a Thrive Buddy response (a great way for kids to boost their summer reading). If your child or youth group is interested in helping with either of these, or in supporting our RTT Box program in a larger way, please email ECBC at ali@ECbookclub.com.

Or, if you want to help fund our book box program with a monetary donation, an easy way to do it is through our charity run website. Registrations are now open for BOOK IT #2 (Sept 8, 2019), and/or you can donate $100 to fund a box for a new cancer diagnosis. CLICK HERE to access the site — It’s super easy!


Leave a comment

It has been a Full Year of Bedside Reading at CHOC Children’s!

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of ECBC”s bedside reading and mobile book cart program at CHOC Children’s Hospital! Before we launched our inpatient program on May 24, 2018, it was rare to see a book or reading happening on a patient floor. Now, patients are regularly being read high-quality literature, and patients in isolation, who are not able to access available books in the hospital lobby, are able to choose books to keep from our mobile book cart. While the year 1 data have not yet been analyzed, our bedside reader volunteers report that, generally speaking, the patients are giving more “yes”s to reading than “no'”s, they are engaged during read-alouds, and they are asking volunteers to stay longer and read more. Which is so much better than we expected when we launched this program (especially knowing that reading can be a hard sell against technology). We can’t wait to formally analyze data from our first year and share the results!

A huge thank you to the most awesome bedside reading team I can imagine. We have an awesome group of current and former educators, librarians, school psychologists, and reading specialists — and they are a large reason why we are getting such a terrific response from the children! I’m so grateful for this team!

As we head into year 2, we will be working on growing this program so that we can offer reading aloud to patients on more hospital floors and more days of the week, with the ultimate goal to be able to offer every available patient a read aloud every day of the week (which is consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of at least 15 minutes a day of reading). We will be looking to recruit new volunteers, particularly those with prior experience in education/literacy — please email at Ali@ECbookclub.com if you are interested in learning more about becoming a bedside reader.