Children’s book author Robie H. Harris was honored with the inaugural Mills Tannenbaum Award for Children’s Literacy, presented at the Reach Out and Read of Greater New York Annual Benefit on May 6th in Manhattan. The new award aims to recognize children’s book authors dedicated to promoting a lifelong love of reading in young children.

“It’s so important that all children have access to high-quality books that excite their imaginations and expand their horizons,” said award founders Gary Tannenbaum and Helen Mills, long-time advocates of children’s literacy in New York and dedicated supporters of the Reach Out and Read early literacy program. “We’re thrilled to play a role in recognizing the great work of Robie Harris and Reach Out and Read of Greater New York.”

Harris’s books are known for taking on the strong emotions and difficult questions faced by children with frankness and fun. Her book Maybe a Bear Ate It! was selected as the official 2012 book of One Book 4 Colorado, a program which gives every four-year old in Colorado a new book. It is also given to many children in New York through the Reach Out and Read program when they visit their pediatricians for a checkup.

“When I first heard Reach Out and Read’s prescription—read to your child twenty minutes every day—I knew it made sense," said Harris. "Reading to our youngest children from the time they are babies is something most every family would do if they had books for their child. Reach Out and Read makes this possible, so that our youngest children can have the chance to enter school ready to succeed. An added bonus is that they have already learned to love books. I am a big fan!”

Reach Out and Read of Greater New York partners with pediatricians to increase literacy skills and school readiness in their youngest patients. Pediatricians and other medical providers provide free age-appropriate children’s books and ongoing literacy counseling to families with children six months through five years old – the most critical years of brain development. The result: families who participate in Reach Out and Read are more likely to read aloud to their children, and children develop stronger receptive and expressive language skills.

Reach Out and Read of Greater New York programs are located in over 180 pediatric clinics, serving mostly low-income families in under served communities. The program reaches a quarter of a million children and their families throughout the New York metropolitan area each year.

View a slideshow of photos from the event.