EXCELSIOR — Members of the Excelsior Rotary Club sorted through and packaged up several hundred books for the Reach Out and Read Minnesota program.

The club met on Feb. 19 at Scenic Heights Elementary School in Minnetonka to go through used children’s books, evaluated their conditions, sorted them by age group, and then packed them for the program, the rotary club said.

Reach Out and Read Minnesota will distribute the books to local pediatric clinics and offices. When a child age 5 or younger visits the health clinic, they will get two age appropriate books from the program, as well as one new book from the pediatrician.

Reach Out and Read began in Boston about 30 years ago when pediatricians observed differences in development in children from different parts of the city.

Reach Out and Read Minnesota started in 1997 with three clinics. As of December 2018, one in every three Minnesota children from ages 6 months to 5 years old participates in the program. That equates to more than 154,000 children benefitting at the 261 health clinics in Minnesota that are affiliated with Reach Out and Read Minnesota.

Reach Out and Read Minnesota aims to reach 100 percent of children in the state in order to reduce the opportunity gap, which the organization says is the main contributor to children getting left behind in school.

Melissa Turtinen is the multimedia reporter for Lakeshore Weekly News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.

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