US Bank is a new lead sponsor of Reach Out and Read in Story County. Lead sponsors make an annual donation to fund 1,000 books given locally by doctors to children at well-child checkups. US Bank is donating "Shapes," a board book to be given to babies at the one-year checkup.

This fall the national Reach Out and Read program received the top honor among the Library of Congress Literacy Awards for its groundbreaking advancement of literacy.

National medical director of Reach Out and Read, Dr. Perri Klass, said, "I tell parents to read to their children because there’s good evidence that it will help their language development, help them be ready to read when the time comes and help parents and children spend loving moments together."

Locally, Reach Out and Read is sponsored countywide by Raising Readers in Story County, with Dr. Jill Alexander as medical director. Primary care providers at McFarland Clinics in Ames, Nevada and Story City, and Story Medical Clinics all participate. Parent surveys show the reading habits of Story County families have improved since 2006 when the program was initiated, and doctors began encouraging families to read aloud with their children every day.

Currently, Story County lead sponsors funding books for Reach Out and Read levels are: United Way of Story County, Ames Morning Rotary Club, US Bank, Rotary Club of Ames, Julie and Harold Pike, and Elaine and Brian Anderson. Additional contributors helping to fund books for other levels are: McFarland Clinic, Kiwanis Club of Ames, Story County Youth Philanthropy (SCYP) and Wilson Toyota.

Seven US Bank employees gathered at McFarland Clinic to apply their labels to their 1,000 books. Taking part were: Joni Steenhoek - Investment Group (Main St.), Megan York - Retail Sales and Service (Nevada), Melissa Patrick - Retail Personal Banker (Main St.), Bret Pugh - Commercial Group (Main St.), Doug Ragaller - Market President (Main St.), Amber Hoskins - Regional Department (Main St.) and Brooke Brewington - Commercial Group (Main St.).