Raising a Reader Program Focuses on Well-Child Exams for Rural Community

Wouldn’t it be clever to integrate reading aloud into pediatric care? Wouldn’t it be cool to get a written prescription from your baby’s doctor or nurse for a book and reading time at home? Wouldn’t it be fabulous if that medical professional provided families with the understanding and tools they need to make reading and storytelling part of their everyday routine? Raising a Reader is setting out to do just that!

This pilot program closely follows the national Reach Out & Read (ROR) model which is based on the premise to "encourage parents to read regularly to their children and give them the tools to do so." (reachout&read.org) ROR trains medical providers to speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud with their children, beginning in infancy. At each well-child visit from 0 – 5 years, the child receives a new age-appropriate book to take home, free of charge. This program has demonstrated a positive impact on the behaviors of both parents and children. Parents who are given a book and information about reading by a doctor are up to four times more likely to read aloud to their children.

It is our goal with Raising a Reader to provide board books and read-aloud tips to our local hospital’s OB department and local health care providers to distribute to newborns and to 0-6-month-olds at their well-child exams. The ultimate goal of this program is to foster a love of reading and to help lay the foundation for being successful in school. By partnering with health care providers and relying on the trust that these professionals have built with the community, we aim to narrow the skills and academic gaps for the children in our community.  This does, indeed, seem like a pretty resourceful plan.