In a mission to improve children's literacy throughout Kansas, the Kansas Health Foundation has begun distributing free books to families, most recently in Dodge City.

In early 2019, KHF launched the children's literacy initiative, called "Can't Wait to Read," across Kansas.

Through the initiative, KHF created and published a bilingual children's book, "Just Like You," or "Igual Que Tu," specifically for southwest Kansas families.

According to KHF, the distribution of up to 10,000 books to families began in Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal.

"Kansas Health Foundation is excited to bring the free book 'Just Like You' to families across southwest Kansas," said KHF director of community relations Monique Garcia. "In addition to offering a fun story in both Spanish and English, 'Just Like You' is a tool to help families build literacy into their everyday routines with tips and activities integrated throughout."

According to KHF, "Just Like You" tells the story of two siblings who discover traits they share with their family.

Featured in the book are literacy tips that will help build literacy into everyday routines and activities for families to do together, as well as an augmented reality interactive element throughout the book for everyone to take part in.

"Currently in Kansas, 63% of fourth-graders won’t pass their grade level reading tests," Garcia said. "And that means a much higher chance that those children won’t graduate from high school.

"What most families may not realize is that the foundation of literacy starts long before kids even enter school. It starts as early as birth. Together with the United Way and our other community partners, we are able to bring these books directly to the community."

Free copies of "Just Like You" will be available at kindergarten and first grade parent-teacher conferences in Dodge City, as well as at Bright Beginnings, Genesis Family Health and the Dodge City USD 443 Migrant Office.

The book also can be downloaded for free at readwiththem.org.

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