You may have seen a recent special report on the NBC Nightly News highlighting efforts to provide military children with books through the Reach Out and Read Program.
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 wellness 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 the scheduled check-ups.
This sounds like a great story for the news, but did you know that this same great program is now in Henry County?
Across America, more than one-third of children lack the basic language skills they will need to learn to read. In Kentucky, especially in rural areas, we face many of the same childhood literacy issues as the rest of the country. We know that children who are exposed to reading aloud and books during the first years of life are more likely to develop stronger reading abilities and enter school prepared to succeed, but fewer than half of parents read to their children daily.
Reach Out and Read targets doctor’s offices because it is a place where young children regularly visit. The goal is to make handing out books as routine as giving immunizations.
Reach Out and Read strives to provide children and parents with tools that can help increase their chances of success as an adult. Infants 6-12 months should reach for books, look at pictures, and put books in their mouths.
By 12-15 months, children can turn pages, point to pictures, and make sounds for pictures.
As toddlers get closer to 2 years of age, they can name pictures and may begin to bring books to you at routine times such as bedtime.
Around 3 years of age, children begin to interact more and more with parents as they read stories by asking and answering questions about the book.
Four- and 5-year-olds can listen to longer stories, retell stories, and even recognize letters.
By building on the relationship between parents, children, and doctors, Reach Out and Read helps children enter school prepared to learn and succeed. I grew up in a rural environment as the child of a farmer and a teacher, and experienced first-hand the impact a strong reading foundation can provide.
As a physician, I have the incredible opportunity to affect children’s lives in a positive way. I want every child visiting our office to know that reading can open doors to their own dreams.
All are invited to the office of Drs. Gatewood and Jett from 5:50-7 p.m. Oct. 27, to help us kick off 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 when 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.