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Raising Readers Celebrates Distribution of its 3 Millionth Book

January 29, 2020

Contact: Caroline Cornish
(207) 662-5146 |

PORTLAND, Maine – Raising Readers presented its 3 millionth book to 5-year-old triplets during a special event at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

It has been 20 years since Raising Readers began distributing books – free of charge – to every Maine child between the ages of birth and 5 through partnerships with hospitals, medical practices and health care providers. Raising Readers is led and administered by MaineHealth in collaboration with Northern Light Health and with support from The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. The program has been fully funded by the Libra Foundation since its inception.

“Raising Readers reaches every child receiving well-child care in Maine. It’s become a part of growing up in Maine,” said MaineHealth CEO Bill Caron. “We are grateful for the Libra Foundation’s ongoing and generous support of this vibrant and beloved program.”

The 5-year-old triplets, Howrah, Yousif and Zahra, have been patients at the Maine Medical Partners Pediatric Clinic since they were born. Their pediatrician, Stephen DiGiovanni, M.D., presented each of them with a copy of “Baabwaa and Wooliam,” by David Elliott and Maine illustrator Melissa Sweet. The book is one of the Raising Readers selections for 5-year-olds this year.

“Raising Readers books support a love of reading, self-confidence and loving attachments between parents and their children,” Dr. DiGiovanni said. “Each time a book is shared between a loving adult and a child, it opens opportunities for lots of back and forth interactions that are fun while building a strong foundation in a child’s brain for all future learning and development.”

“Since its inception 20 years ago, Raising Readers has consistently demonstrated that early literacy is critical to a healthy and vibrant future for Maine children,” said Craig Denekas, CEO of the Libra Foundation. “The act of simply reading together for any family is indispensable.”

Among the attendees of the event was Trevor Borelli, who was given the very first Raising Readers book by First Lady Barbara Bush in 2000. When Trevor was 5 years old, First Lady Barbara Bush presented him with a copy of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Trevor told Mrs. Bush that he’d already read that one, so she gave him a copy of “Miss Rumphius” instead.

Raising Readers has given books to approximately 290,000 Maine children since 2000.


About Raising Readers
Established in 2000, Raising Readers is a one-of-a-kind, statewide early literacy program that gives books – free of charge – to all children up to 5 years old who are born in Maine and receive well-child care within Maine’s health care system. Through the simple act of giving children books, Raising Readers stresses the powerful message that literacy begins well before children enter kindergarten and supports the well-documented link between health and literacy. The program is funded by the Libra Foundation, led and administered by MaineHealth in collaboration with Northern Light Health, with support from The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. For more information, visit

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