A Single Book can Create a Lifelong Learner

A Single Book can Create a Lifelong Learner

Reading. One of the single most powerful acts of personal responsibility an individual must master, and the earlier the better.

While the ‘joy of reading’ may be fun, the fact is, reading is critical not only to the growth and survival of the individual, but to the family, neighborhood, village and society in general. Our civilization will forever be subjected to challenges; natural and self-induced, in which new and creative solutions must be developed, communicated and implemented.

The written word is the building block of  knowledge. Reading fuels learning. Learning teaches adaptation, and adaptation enables survival.

Through my work with Loyola University Medical Center, I learned about the Reach Out and Read® program they support, which provides a bridge between pediatric primary care and literacy education. Reach Out and Read medical providers give books to children at well-child visits from infancy until they start school. They encourage families to read aloud and engage with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers every day.

Incorporating books into pediatric care is the perfect way to reach targeted audiences of families with young children. When I learned about this program and saw it in action, I signed on to help right away. Promoting literacy readiness in high risk urban families, needs to start at those all-important early childhood doctor’s office visits. I’ve been involved with this program since 2016 and highly recommend it to healthcare colleagues looking for a way to give back and make a difference. I like to think of it as Reading RX.

Reach Out & Read connects doctors and nurse practitioners with programming to promote literacy readiness in their patients under the age of five. Because children typically attend routine pediatric visits at least once a year, pediatricians have the greatest access to families with children in their early years. Research shows that when pediatricians promote literacy readiness, there is a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud, as well as improvements in the language scores of young children who participate.

Nationally, the program serves 4.7 million children annually with Reach Out and Read-trained providers who talk with parents about how important it is to read aloud with their young children every day. Each child is given a new book to take home and keep. At the end of the program, every child has a home-library of books, and parents leave with the knowledge that they are their child’s first and most important teacher.

Reach Out & Read Affiliates are located all over the country. Find out more at www.reachoutandread.org.