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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Final Four Days of BOOK IT!

There are just four days left of ECBC’s annual BOOK IT fundraiser, and we are just shy of 2/5 of our fundraising goal. We are hoping for a strong finish in these last few days as we need to do significantly better to keep funding all of our book and reading programs and CHOC Children’s Hospital. Each day of these last few days, I am sharing a photo of an Oncology kiddo at CHOC whom our programs have benefited. Here’s today’s featured warrior: a child on the inpatient side who is being read to by Mary Kay, one of ECBC’s amazing bedside readers/literacy coach experts who shares quality literature and reads aloud in a way that models and nurtures literacy skills and rich dialogue. Oncology patients are often not attending school and missing literature-based classroom experiences, and they also often receive chemo that affects their neurocognitive functioning — so this program aims to provide cognitive benefits in addition to social and emotional ones! Our bedside reading program depends on hardcover books for read alouds, paperback books that can be gifted, art supplies for book-inpspired crafting, and other support materials such as bookmarks, motivational reading bracelets, parent “how to support literacy through treatment” pamphlets and various operational costs including off-site storage of books. If you haven’t yet donated and would like to help us continue to fund our inpatient bedside reading program, we would so appreciate your support. Donate at

Click image above to donate

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It was so wonderful to be back on the inpatient side of CHOC Children’s Hospital today with our Bedside Reading program and our mobile book cart (after being on hold since March 2020)! It is still so quiet there with still no events and limited volunteers, which were always an integral part of patient daily life at CHOC. So we felt wanted and very much needed! And how it warms my heart to learn from one of our expert bedside readers that, per patient request, she read aloud with a 16 year old for 35 minutes (Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories)! It can be tough to get a teen to agree to reading aloud, but when they y do, they often find that it’s enjoyable and a great break from they screen. Also, for the first time we were able to offer our “Tips for Caregivers” pamphlet with information about how they can help their kids to read, think, and thrive while at the hospital and going through treatment. They seemed to appreciate this resource, and we hope it will result in increased reading parents and caregivers in kids’ hospital rooms!

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Getting Ready to Return to CHOC…

ECBC Bedside Reader “re-group & re-train” (group 1) in preparation for our return to our inpatient program at CHOC next week! I am so grateful for our group of educators, librarians, and reading specialists who provide high quality read-aloud for the hospitalized kids who need it most! We are super excited to be back at CHOC next week!

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Five More Ways ECBC Helps Hospitalized Kids Thrive: September 17-21st.

The last five days of ways that ECBC helps hospitalized kids thrive have gone unposted due to extensive prep for ECBC’s large book bag packaging day on Saturday, so here briefly are the five ways for those days, including today. Bedside reading has been the backbone of ECBC’s programs at CHOC, yet they are still on hold since there is no “covid-allowed” way to get our volunteers in the hospital. We have already described a few ways that bedside reading benefits hospitalized kids; here are a few more:

September 17. Bedside reading exposes patients to poetry! Generally speaking, all kids are under-exposed to poetry…yet it’s a wonderful type of text to read aloud. It’s fun to listen to, it’s great for langauge and vocabulary building, it can be a powerful way to work on some important comprehension skills such as visualizing and making text connections, and it can be a bridge to greater interest in reading other types of texts. Bedside readers make sure to include poetry in their read alouds with patients of all ages.

September 18. Most hospitalized teens (and non-hospitalized teens) are long passed the days of being read to. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from it, especially when they tend to spend most of their time in the hospital room on a screen. Our bedside readers include teens in their invitations to participate in a read aloud, and when they get a “yes”, they know which books to select that are short enough for a 15-20 minute read-aloud yet clever or interesting enough to generate thoughtful dialogue. Bedside readers are thrilled when they get to read to a teenager, and it seems like most teens that give it a try end up asking for more. 

September 19. In addition to reading to oncology patients, ECBC’s bedside readers also have read regularly to neurology patients — many of whom have neurocognitive deficits or are nonverbal. We have received incredible feedback from neurology patient parents that their children are enjoying and benefiting from the read alouds, and they’ve expressed gratitude that their kids are included in read-aloud sessions despite their ability to respond in typical ways.  

September 20. Bedside readers also engage patients in creative literature-based crafts, such as making a popsicle stick story character, painting a setting on a blank puzzle, or writing a sequel to a picture book. These activities nurture creative thinking as well as more positive attitudes about literature and reading. 

September 21. ECBC’s Read-Aloud Wagon…just seeing it in the hallway has become a visible reminder to patents and families about the importance of reading while in the hospital. It is not uncommon for bedside readers to be stopped while pulling a wagon and asked for a room visit.  Exactly ECBC’s mission, that books and reading become part of kids care at CHOC!

To support BOOK IT 2020 and ECBC’s bedside reading program, go to Donate $20 to fund one bedside reading book, $100 for a new poetry book for each of our six age group categories, and $600 for one month’s supply of high-quality books for the bedside reading read-aloud wagons.  THANK YOU for helping to honor cancer warriors and hospitalized kids during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!

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30 Ways ECBC Helps Cancer Warriors Thrive Through Treatment: Day #6 of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Sept 6: The 6th way that bedside readers help hospitalized kids thrive through treatment, in addition to providing quality social interactions (see Sept 1 post), is by boosting children’s thinking and literacy skills. Reading is fundamental to cognitive health and thrivership for all kids, yet it is especially important for cancer warriors who are often missing significant school and literature-based instruction, have a type of cancer that directly impairs cognition, and/or are receiving types of treatment that have long-term cognitive impacts. ECBC’s expert bedside readers know how to model and scaffold good thinking while reading aloud, so that the reading session is not just a one-way interaction but a two-way dialogue with reader and listener together predicting, making text-based connections, and thinking deeply about the text.

To support ECBC’s bedside reading program, go to — donate $20 for one bedside reading book, or donate $600 for a full wagon of bedside reading books which are rotated monthly (30 books).

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It’s September! Please Support BOOK IT 2020 in Honor of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month!

Click on image to donate to BOOK IT!

If you haven’t yet supported ECBC’s BOOK IT 2020 Virtual Book Drive, please consider doing so now! ECBC was born out of Ethan’s experience at CHOC Children’s Hospital while battling Leukemia — where he noticed that books and reading were so grossly missing from patients’ lives at the hospital yet felt so deeply that they helped him to escape, connect, think, and thrive through treatment. Please help ECBC keep on going with its mission to bring books and reading to all hospitalized kids and especially oncology patients — we can’t do this without our community’s support!

While ECBC’s volunteer programs at CHOC have been on hold due to Covid, we are gearing up to launch Covid-modified programs that don’t require volunteers (with the awesome help of CHOC’s outpatient oncology nursing team). This includes delivering ECBC’s Read Think Thrive Book Bags to every cancer diagnosis (via the nurses, rather than our volunteers);establishing a mobile gifting library cart on the outpatient side to deliver a book to oncology patients whenever they visit OPI for an infusion or the oncology clinic; building a virtual book club for teen cancer warriors that includes giving them Kindles and monthly e-books; and gifting themed books to patients during the holidays (including Halloween, December holidays). To proceed with these plans, and also to sustain our regular programs once we are given the green light to bring our volunteers back, we desperately need to raise more funds!

The BOOK IT 2020 fundraising campaign was set to end Monday September 7th, which was the original date of the onsite BOOK IT 2020 run. Since we have raised only 1/3 of our goal and we are committed to our new covid-inspired plans with CHOC, we are extending the virtual campaign through the month of September. In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, each day of September we will share one specific way that ECBC helps kids to thrive — in hopes that you will pick one way that resonates with you and help fund it! Please help if you can — ECBC needs it more than ever, and so do the kiddos stuck in the hospital (without the usual volunteers and diversions per covid rules!).

Here’s way #1 that ECBC helps hospitalized kids thrive through treatment:

Through our amazing inpatient bedside reading program, ECBC gets kids to put down their screen for 15-30 minutes in order to connect with a bedside reader who is 100% present, engaging , and eager to have a literature-inspired social interaction.

To support ECBC’s bedside reading program, please CLICK HERE — $20 provides a hardcover (easily cleanable) book for our Lending Library and bedside reading program.

THANK YOU for supporting BOOK IT and helping to honor cancer warriors during this month!

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‘Tis the Season of Holiday Books at CHOC

ECBC had a fun and productive day on Thursday, getting books and reading to CHOC patients in a variety of ways. We teamed up with MaxLove Project for a holiday-themed BeSuper Party in the hospital lobby, where we gave away December holiday-themed books to patients and siblings of all ages. We also delivered books to the Outpatient Infusion Center, re-stocking their shelves with approximately 150 new holiday books. And, per our ongoing bi-weekly inpatient program, ECBC’s expert Bedside Readers read aloud to the Oncology and Neurology patients on the 5th floor while also giving away books to patients in isolation using our mobile book cart. To top it off, we delivered a Read+Think+Thrive Bag to a 17-year old cancer patient. It was so fun to reach so many patients at CHOC, especially with terrific high-quality, holiday-themed literature! This is the first year we’ve been able to provide CHOC kids with holiday books and they have been THRILLED — THANK YOU TO everyone who has been dropping off and sending books to us — — we’ve been overwhelmed by the donations, which are making this season at the hospital that much more

special! #HospitalizedKidsNeedBooksToo #ReadAloudEveryDay #ReadThinkThrive #ThriveAgainstCancer #BedsideReading #BeSuper #ECBC #ReadThruTheHolidays

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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 Successful Afternoon at CHOC Getting Books and Reading to Patients!

While ECBC is at CHOC Children’s Hospital weekly reading and delivering books to oncology and neurology patients, our lobby book-give away events and Outpatient Infusion Center (OPI) deliveries happen on a monthly basis. So yesterday was our day of the month to do all three. First we delivered approximately 125 new books to the OPI, restocking their otherwise empty shelves; then we gave away books from our mobile Gifting Library Cart alongside MaxLove Project in the CHOC lobby, and finally we ended the afternoon by reading aloud to patients in their rooms on the 5th floor (and delivering books to patients in isolation). These days — where we do all three back-to-back– are always so rewarding as we are able to reach patients in multiple areas of the hospital. Yesterday’s highlight: Our Bedside Reader reported that a two-year-old patient wanted seven books to be read aloud, asking that everyone in the room sit down on the floor to listen! It’s so wonderful to hear these stories of reading aloud and good literature making an impact on children’s lives at CHOC!