Family Nurse Practitioner Students Holding Virtual Book Drive

April 6, 2020 | Events, News, UToday, Alumni, UTMC, Nursing
By Vicki L. Kroll



Everyone remembers that cherished childhood book.

“My favorite was ‘Go, Dog. Go!’ by P.D. Eastman,” said Cassi Laberdee, a student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. “Reading and being read to beginning at a young age can shape children in such a positive way; it can pave the way for a knowledge-filled life. And this allows parents and children another way to bond and grow their relationships.”

Jessica Asher, a student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, read “Bedtime Bear” to her 3-month-old twins, Jasey, left, and Jozey.

“I loved Dr. Seuss’ ABC book when I was a kid. It helped me to learn my alphabet in a fun way growing up. I always loved learning and reading,” said Stephanie Zecman, who also is in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program.

Laberdee and Zecman are teaming up with a couple peers to hold the family nurse practitioner students’ spring project — a virtual book drive that runs through Monday, April 20.

The drive is being conducted through Books By the Bushel, and donations will go to Reach Out and Read, a grant-funded program in the UToledo Department of Pediatrics.

“Our goal is to give 500 books to Reach and Read; that’s the equivalent of $1,000 — $2 a book,” Laberdee said.

Reach Out and Read prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.

Doctors, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally appropriate books to children.

Locally, the program reaches 15,000 families with young children at 24 pediatric and family practice offices in northwest Ohio. The program distributes 30,000 new books a year.

Nationally, Reach Out and Read programs are located in 6,400 hospitals, health centers and pediatric clinics in all 50 states. The program also serves 4.8 million children and families each year. More than 7.4 million new, developmentally appropriate books are given to children annually.

“I think the book drive is important during this unfortunate time because it allows one to look forward to something and gives people the option to donate to a good cause,” Jessica Asher, family nurse practitioner student, said. “With these hard times in mind, it will help these kids to feel loved and have something to look forward to at their well visits.”

Asher’s favorite book as a child was “Kittens and More Kittens” by Marci Ridlon. These days, she reads “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin to her twin girls.

“We hope to gather donations to give children the gift of reading and new memorable books to take home,” Asher said.

“Doing this virtual book drive through the Reach Out and Read Program, especially during these challenging times, can give people some positivity that they are helping children in need,” Allison Locke, a family nurse practitioner student, said. “Knowing we can help provide books to children through their pediatric care offices brings me so much joy.”

Zecman worked in a pediatric clinical site last semester and saw the program in action.

“Passing out books to all of my pediatrics patients was a great feeling. They would get so excited to get a book, even after they may have had to get poked for blood, they walked out smiling with a book in hand,” Zecman said. “It is especially important during these hard times where kids may not be getting hands-on education every day at school; having a book collection would be so beneficial for the kids that need it the most.”

Donations to the virtual book drive may be made on the Books By the Bushel website.

For more information on the drive, email cassi.laberdee@rockets.utoledo.edu.