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Letter from the Director

Dear Friends of Reach Out and Read Texas,

Warm Winter Wishes!

I’m so aware of how hectic this time of year can be with expectations and weather and health issues seeming to ramp up.  May time with family and friends restore you!

I have a couple of new beginnings to share with you as 2016 comes to an end.  First, Kristi Romero has joined the staff of the Children’s Learning Institute here at UTHealth-Houston and one of her roles will be to help coordinate Reach Out and Read Texas.  I am thrilled and delighted to have additional assistance to serve the programs of Texas and eager to incorporate Kristi’s experience and viewpoint into the administration of the program.   See her introduction below.

We are also beginning a new collaboration with the Texas State Library and Archives CommissionChristine McNew, Youth Services Consultant, and I will be seeking ways to connect the libraries across the state with active Reach Out and Read sites.  See below for more information and links to learn more.

Please remember that encouraging parents to talk, sing, and read with young children is a powerful resource for changing the trajectory for at-risk children and their brain development.  I appreciate all that you do to support the children of Texas!

Jocelyn McConnell, M.Ed.
Reach Out and Read Texas

Hello everyone,

My name is Kristi Romero, and I am very excited to be joining the CLI team, especially Reach Out and Read, to spread the love for reading and using a book as a tremendous tool to work with families.

As Jocelyn mentioned, I will be helping coordinate this amazing program.

A little bit about me, I just recently moved to Texas from Bogota, Colombia (South America) and am very excited to explore the state of Texas!  I discovered my love for early childhood intervention when I first stepped into an Early Childhood Development Center and saw two and three year olds playing with shadows and learning to explore the world.  From that day forward my life shifted to working exclusively in this field.  I hold a Masters in Population and Social Development with a program management focus from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and a BS in Psychology with a Minor in International Studies from Boston College.  I have experience in formulating, managing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating early childhood and social development programs, funded by international cooperation agencies and public-private partnerships.  In the last few years, I have worked with ALAS (an  international NGO) that focuses on helping Latin American governments understand the cost of implementing high quality early childhood centers and a consulting firm that worked to improve school readiness in Colombia.  On a personal note, I grew up between Bogota, Colombia and Wisconsin, where my mother is from, and am completely bilingual (English and Spanish).

I am thrilled to be working with you all!  Please reach out and say hi or let me know if there is anything we can do to help.

Happy holidays!

Reach Out and Read


Progress Reports will be available for completion in mid-January 2017 While logged in, please

  • review contact lists and make sure they reflect all active providers and coordinators at your site with current email and phone numbers; delete any inactive staff or providers.
  • check to see who needs to do the free online CME training!
  • complete and sign off on the progress report.

Completing the progress report helps me to identify continuing need for book funding and to share your experiences from the field. These criteria also influence book distribution choices.

Program Highlights:

Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read

In 2015, Emily Wang began a literacy project for the Girl Scout Gold Award.  She coordinated a nationwide book drive and raised over 8000 books overall by working with branches of a volunteer organization called AYLUS (Alliance of Youth Leaders in the US).  The books were donated to orphanages, hospitals, schools, clinics and a rural Chinese village.   She ran her own book drive at a local level as well and has raised over 2,000 books with team members.  She donated 300 of the books to Southwest Memorial Hermann’s pediatric unit and over the summer worked closely with the child life coordinator at the hospital to distribute books to children and model reading to families.  After the summer, she continued to supply Memorial Hermann pediatric unit with books whenever they were low.  She also became a certified ESL tutor at the Ft. Bend Literacy Council and led an ESL class over the summer and continues working with her own grandmother.  And, on top of all that... she found Reach Out and Read and now goes biweekly to read to the kids at the Legacy Community Health Clinic and continues to share books she’s collected (nearly 1400 so far).  She identified that her parents were on Medicaid themselves at one point and while she was never deprived of reading materials, she knows that there are many people who are.  She says she really enjoys the time she’s spent reading with the children, feels she is making a difference and hopes they’ll grow up and make a positive impact on American society themselves.

Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read Texas has begun a new collaboration with The Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

I’ll be sharing information about Reach Out and Read with librarians across the state and assisting them in making contact with active programs at clinics in their area.  I am really excited to be creating this network of support for the programs in Texas, increasing access to information about library programs for the families we serve.

So, when Kristi and I reach out to programs during site visits and phone check-ins, and ask about a literacy-rich environment, we’ll now have additional tools to offer for locating information about GED and ESL classes, how to get a library card and story time hours.  How wonderful to be introducing new families to all the resources available to them at their local library!

Find Us Online:

The easiest way to show your support for Reach Out and Read Texas is by "liking" us on Facebook or “following” us on Twitter.  We work to provide program updates, early literacy news, and resources for parents, educators, and medical providers.  Please join the conversation today! 


The editorial staff of the The Reach Out and Read Newsletter would like to hear from you.  Please submit your comments, suggestions, and questions to Jocelyn McConnell, M.Ed. at

Winter 2016

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Newsletter Contributors

Jocelyn McConnell, M.Ed.
ROR-TX Director

Bang Pham
Web Developer IV

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