Rx for reading: Pediatricians incorporate books into checkups to promote early literacy

(North Carolina Health News)

At the Cone Health Mom+Baby Combined Care clinic in Greensboro, reading is part of every child wellness check. At a recent checkup, family medicine physician Kimberly Newton read from “It’s Bath Time” to a 4-month-old patient. “That’s a donkey. That’s a pig,” she read as the baby grabbed at the pages. “Do you know what sound pigs make? Oink, oink, oink.” She turned her attention to the adults in the room. “She’s just absorbing it all. That’s good to see.” At the end of the visit, the family took the book home to add to their growing library. They’ll get a new book at each wellness checkup until age 5. 

The books come from Reach Out and Read, a national program that has been available in North Carolina for 20 years and nationally since 1989. More than 2,200 providers in the state use the program, which is in almost all 100 counties, according to Amber Pierce, state director for Reach Out and Read North Carolina. Studies show Reach Out and Read has a “significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud and that children who participate demonstrate higher language scores,” Pierce said. A June 2023 multi-year study of the program in North Carolina and South Carolina found that caregivers already exposed to Reach Out and Read were more likely to read daily to a child than those who had just joined the program.

Read the full story at NC Health News here.

(Image credit: Jennifer Fernandez, NC Health News)