Check out our event calendar to find a program near you! Look for the title “RFTS.”

Children who grow up hearing stories and engaging with books have a better chance of falling in love with language and succeeding in school. Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important activity a caregiver can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning. Missouri Humanities’ (MH) family reading program, Read from the Start (RFTS), empowers parents/caregivers to read to their young children regularly—helping them to form early habits that foster a lifelong love of reading.

Through the guidance of a certified RFTS Discussion Leader, participants read/discuss children’s books and explore fun activities to enhance story time and nurture early literacy skills in their children. RFTS is offered free of charge and participants keep the high-quality children’s books presented in the program.

MH partners with local organizations throughout the state to host RFTS programs.  These partners share a commitment to family reading and literacy.  Host sites include: Head Starts, Parents as Teachers, libraries, community action agencies, schools, and shelters.

RFTS did a great job of teaching me that story time can be more about participation and conversation to edify my children’s education.
-RFTS participant at Gracemor Elementary


Text RFTSMOBILE to 55678 to receive reading reminders, tips, and fun literacy building activities right to your phone.

Original Workshop

MHC’s flagship program for parents/caregivers with children age birth to 5 years old. Host sites may choose between one 2-HOUR session with 5 free books or two 90-MINUTE sessions with 7 free books. This workshop is for adults only.  Click the icon above for workshop specifics and application.

Educator Workshop

This program takes MHC’s Original RFTS and tailors it for host sites (university/colleges, head starts, daycares, etc.) interested in student educational opportunities in early literacy education and/or professional development for staff working in early childhood education settings. Click the icon above for workshop specifics and application.

Family Workshop

A NEW 60-MINUTE program for parents/caregiver and their children age birth to 5 years old. During this parent/child workshop, families read 4 children’s books and explore fun literacy-based activities together. Click the icon above for workshop specifics and application.

Discussion Leaders

Are you an educator, librarian, or someone interested in sharing the importance of reading aloud? Click the icon above to learn how you can facilitate RFTS Workshops.

Read from the Start (RFTS) programs are fun and educational.

Participants learn fresh ideas about reading to young children and receive a set of high-quality children’s books to keep.  You can see our book list HERE.  To find out when RFTS is coming to your community, take a look at our EVENTS CALENDAR on this site, or contact Lisa Carrico, Director of Family & Veterans Programs at 1-800-357-0909 or by email at

What happens at a Read from the Start program?

• Participants learn how reading to children helps strengthen the parent/child bond, prepares children for future learning, and helps children fall in love with books and stories.

• Read from the Start programs are for adults only, but childcare is often provided during the program. RFTS is offered FREE of charge.

• Participants read and discuss a selection of children’s books together.

• Participants explore activities to do with their children after reading, such as art, songs, finger plays, and dramatic play.

• Participants learn how to choose good books for their children.


Who’s eligible?

Our target audience includes parents/caregivers in Missouri who may have limited access to books, and face economic hardships or educational challenges that make reading to their children difficult.

How often can I apply?

Applications are not limited. However, we have a maximum amount of programs per fiscal year based on available funding.

Where and when are RFTS programs held?

RFTS programs are held throughout the state of Missouri all year long. The MHC partners with local organizations that share a commitment to family reading and literacy. Some of our partners, include Head Start, Parents as Teachers, libraries, schools, and other community action agencies.

Can children attend the RFTS sessions?

Children do not attend the sessions. However, we encourage Host Sites to provide day care.