Reach out and Read with your doctor’s office

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By Dr. Katherine Jett

When your child thinks about the doctor’s office he probably has memories of shots, swabs for strep throat, or being given yucky tasting medications. 

While those tasks are necessary to keep children healthy, pediatricians also strive to focus on keeping the whole child healthy.  This includes encouraging language development and promoting childhood literacy. 

Reach out and Read is a national program in the doctor’s office that begins at the 6-month check up and continues through age 5 and provides a new book at each well visit.  The program’s mission is to prepare America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.  Each child receives a total of 10 new books if he or she comes to all of their scheduled check ups. 

Before a child begins school they are surrounded by teachers – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and loved ones that can help prepare a foundation for a child to love reading.  There are many ways that you can help your child develop the skills to read even before they are old enough to read a book.  Here are a few tips to help as you read with your little one.

Read aloud every day

Reading aloud is the single most effective thing parents can do to help their children to succeed in school.  Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language and this exposure helps expand children’s vocabulary.  Make reading aloud a special time to spend together each day.

A few minutes is okay

Young children may only be able to pay attention for a few minutes.  As kids get older they will sit and focus on longer stories.  If your child loses interest take a break and try reading again later.

Make it fun

Use funny voices for the characters in the story, make silly noises, practice animal sounds together.

Read it again and again and again

Kids often want to hear their favorite story over and over.  Repeating the same vocabulary can help children develop language skills.  In time your toddler may even be able to recite the story to you!

Talk about the pictures

Ask your child to name the pictures, find items of a particular color, and count the pictures.

Ask your child questions about the story

What happened next?  What is this?

Let your child ask you questions about the story

Use the story as a way to spark conversation with your little one.

Make it interactive

Use board books with study pages for little ones to turn, older kids can tell you when its time to turn the page.  Kids love books with flaps and textures for them to touch.

Take advantage of your local library

Sign your little one up for a library card and expose him/her to thousands of books for free!  Most libraries host story hour or other children’s events you can enjoy.

Get your child evaluated if you suspect a problem

Discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher or pediatrician if you have concerns about his/her language development, hearing, or sight.

By building on the relationship between parents, children, and doctors, Reach Out and Read helps children enter school prepared to learn and succeed.   All are invited to the office of Dr. Gatewood and Dr. Jett on October 25th from 5:30-7pm to help celebrate the Reach Out and Read program with a storybook themed Trunk-or-Treat called “All Hallows Read.”  We will have trunks decorated with our favorite story books and have candy, a book craft, and free raffle items for the kids.  If you are too big to trick or treat, we will also be collecting new and gently used children’s books to give to children in the office for sick visits or accompanying siblings for a visit. Most importantly, remember your prescription – share the gift of reading with a child.


Katherine Jett, MD, is an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist with Baptist Medical Associates Campbellsburg. Her office is located at 58 Citation Lane in Campbellsburg.  She can be reached at 532-7341. For more information on Dr. Jett, office hours or a map, visit baptistmedicalassociates.com.  Articles from Dr. Jett will be appearing monthly.  If you have a suggestion for an article topic or question, please email her at bmasuggestiontopics@bhsi.com.