Reaching out to the Cedar Valley

Cedar Valley Readers encourages parents, educators and community members to reach out and help foster love for reading and learning within every child, every day! We are excited to be a part of many exciting local and national initiatives. Take a look at what we at working on!

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Daily Vroom App
2017 Parenting Fair
Book Rich Environments
Y Believe Summer Learning Academy
Reading is Fundamental
Vision to Learn
Booking Brighter Futures
Little Free Libraries

Reach out and Read

Reach out and Read is a national program that supports medical professionals in championing parents as their children’s first and most important teachers. Dr. Daniel Wright and Covenant Pediatrics, in partnership with Cedar Valley Readers, first brought Reach Out and Read to the Cedar Valley in 2016. Together we are nearing our one year anniversary as a part of the program.

Other offices participating the Reach Out and Read program in the Cedar valley include the Family Practice offices at Unity Point Prairie Parkway in Cedar Falls. We are excited to see another layer of support in our community that encourages the promotion of literacy and reading success!

The Reach out and Read model calls for physicians to give a new, age and culturally appropriate book to every child who visits them for a well-child check-up, from infancy through age 5. During regular check-ups, physicians advise parents about the importance of reading aloud to their children. As a result of this evidence-based intervention, parents learn new ways to stimulate their children’s literacy development, and have more books in their home, and read to their children more frequently.


Below are additional resources from Reach Out and Read providing guidance for parents related to appropriate book-related behaviors for ages 6 months though 5 years

Milestones of Early Literacy Development (English)
Milestones of Early Literacy Development (Spanish)

Read more about Reach Out and Read’s national initiatives →

Daily Vroom App

New science tells us that our children’s first years are when they develop the foundation for all future learning. Every time we connect with them, it’s not just their eyes that light up—it’s their brains too. In these moments, half a million neurons fire at once, taking in all the things we say and do. We can’t see it happening, but it’s all there, all at work. That’s why the Daily Vroom app is here.

shared moments into brain building moments. Whether it’s mealtime, bath time, or anytime in between, there are always ways to nurture our children’s growing minds.


Download the FREE Daily Vroom today!

Book Rich Environments

Book Rich Environments is an initiative developed by Cedar Valley Readers in conjunction with Operation Threshold, a community action organization in Waterloo, Iowa. Families receiving housing assistance receive free books for every child in their household. We believe in the importance of building personal libraries for all young readers in the Cedar Valley, and Book Rich Environments is only one of the many ways we are working to put books in kids’ hands.

2017 Parenting Fair

Operation Threshold’s Nest Program is hosting their 10th Annual Parenting Fair, and this year it’s a SUPER HERO theme! Support the Parenting Fair by showing off your favorite super hero apparel! Come by and collect a variety of free information from local agencies, patriciate in free activities for children, get a free car seat safety check and a free meal, and win door prizes! A wide variety of agencies will be on hand providing helpful information and answering questions, including: Getting Ahead in the Cedar Valley, FaDSS, Parents as Teachers, Educational Opportunity Center, Amani, Alternatives, Black Hawk County Health Department, Cedar Valley Readers, United Healthcare, Pathways, Waypoint, Planned Parenthood, Lutheran Services of Iowa, Waterloo Schools, Early Head Start, Head Start, PIEER and more.

Get there early! The first 135 families will receive a free tote bag, first 125 kids will get a free child backpack, and the first 200 people will get free passes to the Phelps Youth Pavilion!

Join us on Thursday, March 16 at the UAW, 2615 Washington Street, Waterloo
The fair runs from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Y Believe Summer Learning Academy

Cedar Valley Readers is partnering once again with the Family YMCA of Black Hawk County and Waterloo Community School District to provide the Summer 2017 Learning Academy. The Y Summer Learning Academy seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in them, their families and their communities.

What is the Summer Academy?
By providing summer reading, math and STEM enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, the Y Summer Learning Academy plays a much needed role in helping to curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps – and is a key part of YMCA’s work to ensure a level playing field for all children. In partnership with local congregations, schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, the Y Summer Learning Academy has the ability to boost student motivation to read, generate more positive attitudes toward learning, increase self-esteem and connect the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities.

Learn more about the Y Believe Summer Learning Academy →

Reading is Fundamental

RIF brings the joy of reading and learning to children in need of support across the country. Cedar Valley Readers is partnering with Reading is Fundamental to put more books in local classrooms!80-low-income-risk-falling-behind-sm.jpg

We are working right now with teachers at Lowell Elementary in Waterloo to order books and create fun exchange programs allowing kids to take home a variety of books throughout the school year. Reading is Fundamental (RIF) is a national program committed to fostering a literate America by inspiring a passion for reading among all children, providing quality content and resources to make an impact, and engaging communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success.

Since 1966, RIF has distributed more than 412 million books to 40 million children nationwide, improving their ability to read, learn and grow!

Visit RIF’s website for more information →

Vision to Learn

Founded in 2012 in Los Angeles, Vision To Learn provides children with free eye exams and free glasses by bringing its mobile eye clinics to schools and to other neighborhood youth and community organizations.

Kids’ vision issues often go undetected, with as many as one in five children lacking the ability to see clearly. Students with impaired vision can struggle to read a book, study math, see the board, or even participate in class—all of which can result in poor grades and adversely affect academic achievement. Vision To Learn alters these outcomes by coordinating screenings for children, and supplying those in need with eye exams and glasses—an age-old yet critical tool for success.


We are excited about Cedar Valley Readers’ developing partnership with Vision to Learn. In 2017, mobile screening labs will visit Irving, Lowell, Cunningham, Lincoln and Highland Elementary Schools in Waterloo to provide free eye exams. As part of the initiative, two pairs of glasses will be provided free of charge to children in need. To further track the successes of the program, we are partnering with Cedar Valley Medical Specialists and Unity Point Waterloo to track reading scores from participating children.

Find out more about the national Vision to Learn campaign →

Booking Brighter Futures

Booking Brighter Futures was created by Cedar Valley Readers to deliver books to families that are already receiving home-visit services through Operation Threshold, Lutheran Services of Iowa and Iowa Early Head Start. All children within families that are being served (right now 300 households) receive a new book each month to add to their growing home libraries. We are always looking for new books to hand out as part of this great program! Find out how you can help here.

Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries are small boxes that house free books for anyone to take and exchange at any time. Returns and/or exchanges are not mandatory, but encouraged.

The Cedar Valley’s Little Free Libraries are open to everyone regardless of income level, age or residence. Non-residents are welcome to participate. Currently, there are eight known Little Free Libraries located in or around the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area.

During the spring and summer of 2017, we will celebrating the unveiling of several new Little Free Libraries provided to area organization through Cedar Valley Readers. Keep in the loop by liking our Facebook page and see announcements about the new Little Free Libraries!

View the Little Free Library map to find a Little Free Library near you!


While it’s important to give kids a chance to relax over the summer, it’s also important to make sure they keep those creative juices flowing!

Students who lack access to summer programming or quality reading material can lose up to two months of reading skills over summer. Even our little ones, as young as first grade, experience learning loss if they aren’t engaged with learning over summer. And when kids go back to school, if they aren’t up to speed, it can take as long as six weeks to get back on track. Summer learning matters! You can help curb summer loss by spending just 20 minutes every day reading along with or aloud to your children. Let’s send them back to school ready to learn this fall!

We created a schedule of fun events and activities — all free — for the summer of 2017. You might have heard us talking about #cedarvalleyreads  on the radio or on TV (thank you to KBOL, KBBG and KWWL).  We worked with Waterloo Schools on fun events designed to keep kids’ brains firing all summer long. We were out-and-about over the summer giving away free books to help build home libraries!

Our thanks to the libraries, festivals, sports teams and organizations that joined together with us to create this schedule! And thank you to all who joined at the events.

Download a Printable Version in English, 8.5×11
Download a Printable Version in Spanish, 8.5×11
Download a Printable Version in Bosnian, 8.5×11