The Reach Out and Read Oklahoma Book Bundle Pilot at the University of Oklahoma Pediatric Clinic leverages the powerful and singular access that our medical providers have with their patients to get more books into the hands of young children and their families in the Tulsa region.
At a distribution of just slightly more than one book a month (for a total of 37 books), this beautiful collection of diverse books was selected and curated as a collaboration between Reach Out and Read, All About Books and Magic City Books of Tulsa. This partnership invested significant time and energy to ensure the doctor could share these titles with the little ones. Reach Out and Read medical providers at OU Health provide books for every month of the child’s life for their first three years. At the 3-5 days and the 1-month well-child visit, each child receives one book. At the 2-month and 4-month visit, families receive two books, and, at the 6-month, 9-month, 12-month, and 15-month visit, three books, and so on. The books for the youngest children involved in this project focus on promoting opportunities for the baby to hear their parent’s voice while snuggling—examples include I Love You Like Sunshine, May We Have Enough to Share, and Global Babies/Bebes Del Mundo. Parents trust their pediatricians and following their medical provider’s advice, parents read, sing, cuddle, and bond with their children more often.
Most of the books provided through the Book Bundle Pilot are written and/or illustrated by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and the pilot books feature families and children of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Books, like mirrors, help reflect what we observe and know about the world we live in. It is a powerful thing to read or listen to a story about someone like you. Books also allow us to view and understand lives that are different from our own, like a window onto other experiences.
One provider at OU Health told us about a family that lit up with joy when talking about the books they received at their 18-month well-child visit: “The mother spoke about how her grandma is closer to her Native American heritage and was thrilled to receive a book featuring Native American characters. Receiving the book prompted a much richer storytime – which included personal histories and a connection to their past.”
Made possible in partnership with George Kaiser Family Foundation’s Birth Through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST), the Reach Out and Read Book Bundle project provides an innovative pilot that considers how we might further help change outcomes for under-resourced children in Tulsa County. With this project, Reach Out and Read Oklahoma also deepens its engagement and support with the families we serve by extending our model back to birth when it is easiest to establish these positive family routines. Increasing the dose-effect of Reach Out and Read by more visits starting at birth and more age-appropriate books, we have an even greater opportunity to support parents in developing safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with their children. These positive relationships are not only foundational for healthy child development but improve family resilience, support child perseverance through adversity, and help families to flourish.
The relationships that we have in very early childhood shape the trajectory of our lives, and those who love and nurture us provide the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling life in which we contribute to our community and to society. The more at Reach Out and Read that we learn about the importance of the early months for fostering healthy brain development, the more convinced we are of the importance of pediatric primary care for its unparalleled access to and influence on families and children during this critical developmental window.
A pediatric resident at OU Health expressed how much the materials and information provided through this pilot have helped him organize his well-child visits. Having the bundle of books made it easy to work with families, and everyone has been excited by the book selections. “Many families think they have to pick a book,” this resident said. “They are thrilled when they get to bring them all home.”