In response to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, Read to Grow has distributed over 12,000 copies and counting of their new board book, Hello Sometimes, in both English and Spanish, to children and families across Connecticut. Read to Grow launched a storywalk for Hello Sometimes: a series of temporary outdoor installations of the book in large format for children and families to read and experience together. The author and illustrator recently visited the West Haven Community House as part of the kickoff.
Hello Sometimes follows a young child who leads us through the uncertainties of day to day life and shares the enduring message that life is about change. Written by Amy Vatner, an attorney with The Children’s Community Programs of Connecticut, and illustrated by Gabriella Svenningsen, Tassey Walden award-winning artist, Hello Sometimes features simple rhymes and dynamic watercolor illustrations.
“Read to Grow has been supporting families develop healthy reading routines with their children for over 21 years,” says Read to Grow Executive Director Suzannah Holsenbeck. “When the pandemic struck, we saw a unique opportunity to provide a board book for the youngest learners amongst us and to provide parents and caregivers a tangible way to discuss ongoing challenges that can seem very abstract to children. We are thrilled to launch the storywalk in partnership with the West Haven Family Resource Center.”
West Haven Community House launched the new storywalk for Hello Sometimes for children and families on Nov. 10 with the author and illustrator present. Classrooms from Head Start and children from the West Haven Family Resource Center were taken through the story walk and given a copy of the book to take home.
“The Family Resource Center is excited for the opportunity to bring the Hello Sometimes storywalk to life for the families of the FRC and the West Haven Head Start program,” says Jean Vitale, Director of the WHFRC. “This storywalk will be a shared outdoor reading experience, which will allow us to physically move from page to page. It gives children the opportunity to have fun while learning new words, learning how to follow a story in sequence, and even act out the story. In collaboration with Head Start teachers, we will be also reading the story aloud in Spanish, Arabic, and Turkish, celebrating the rich cultures here in West Haven as depicted in the story.”
The Hello Sometimes storywalk is made possible by the generous vision and support of Anne Rash and Altrusa USA. Read to Grow’s publication and distribution of Hello Sometimes is made possible by funding from the Valley Community Foundation, Seedlings Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, United Way of Greater New Haven, Citizens Bank, The Scripps Family Fund for Education and the Arts, 100 Women Who Care Fairfield County, The Children’s Community Programs of Connecticut, and many generous donors.
Connecticut-based teachers and childcare providers are encouraged to request copies through www.readtogrow.org/hellosometimes. Supporters may also purchase copies of the book through Read to Grow. Proceeds from sales of the book go directly back into Read to Grow’s statewide early literacy programming.
Read to Grow is a literacy nonprofit that promotes language skills and literacy for children, beginning at birth, and supports parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. Read to Grow operates statewide, providing 22,000 early literacy packets annually to families of newborns at hospital maternity units. The Branford-based nonprofit also distributes more than 165,000 children’s books each year through their Books for Kids programs. Read to Grow has distributed over 2.2 million books to children and families across Connecticut since 2000. Since the pandemic began, Read to Grow’s Books for Kids program has distributed over 70,000 books to children picking up meals at schools and food pantries across the state and published a new board book, Hello Sometimes, in response to the challenges of the pandemic. To learn more, visit www.readtogrow.org.