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Reach Out and Read Celebrates Read a Book Day 2016

A guest blog celebrating Read a Book Day from Dr. Beth Toolan, Pediatrician at Providence Community Health Centers and Reach Out and Read Rhode Island Provider of the Year.


Reading opens the door to a world of possibilities. It promotes creative thinking, imagination, and encourages children to move outside themselves and understand others. From the Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss's characters, to Winnie the Pooh, Skippy John Jones, Nancy Drew, Captain Underpants, and now Harry Potter, these books weave a tapestry that connects parents to children and joins families to communities.

 

I work at Providence Community Health Centers, an inner city clinic, and my patients are low income, culturally diverse, and often unable to read or speak English. As a Reach Out and Read provider, I know that talking about the importance of reading aloud to young children offers families at least one way of giving their infants, toddlers and preschoolers a better start. We know that children's brains begin developing rapidly from birth. There is so much data supporting the fact that reading to children from infancy promotes language development, brain growth, and school readiness. It has also been shown to improve behavior, attention and social-emotional development. Infancy is a crucial time, and with the Reach Out and Read Program, I am able to access these families when it matters most. 

 

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There are so many examples of how the Reach Out and Read program has impacted individuals. One young mother of an 18-month-old girl showed up at her visit having taken the bus from the residential substance abuse program where they were staying. When I entered the room for her visit, she had several of the books I had given her at past visits out on the exam table, and she told me they were her daughter's favorite things. Despite having to travel on the bus, she brought these valuable things with her to entertain her daughter, and was delighted to get her next book to share with her daughter.  Another joyful example of how this program impacts patients involved a three-year-old child of two teenage parents. I had given her an ABC book at her request while I examined her younger sister. I turned to see her sitting on her teenage father's lap, turning the pages of the book, animatedly pointing out the pictures and explaining it to him, while he listened attentively.

 

On September 6, National Read a Book Day, I encourage everyone not only to experience the joys of reading a book for yourself, but to share books with your young children to give them a foundation for success.

Written by Reach Out and Read - Communications at 10:26

Picking the Best First Book

A guest blog from Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a U.S. pediatrician who participates in the national early literacy program Reach Out and Read and understands the importance of reading aloud to children of all ages.


After recognizing that reading to your child is one of the first brain-building activities to start routinely doing with your child, the next question is: which book?  Not all children's books are created the same: some are not very good at all, and others are mere vehicles for marketing to you and your children.  Yet the array of choices available at any public library or bookstore can be dizzying and bewildering.  How to choose?

 

When it comes to finding good books, your best bet is to make use of your expert local resources: your public librarian is usually well-versed in high-quality children's books for a variety of ages, cultures and interests.  They are more than happy to field your enquiries; not only can they recommend books in their collection, they can obtain books for you via interlibrary loan or even purchase them based on your requests!

 

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If you're looking to select books yourself, the most important question to ask is: "Does the book interest you?"  If the adult reading the book finds it interesting and engaging, there's a high likelihood the baby or child will as well.  Also, if the reader truly enjoys the book, he or she is more likely to read it with the kind of enthusiasm and expression that will in turn engage the baby or child listener.

 

Next, look at the images in the book; are they interesting and engaging?  This may range from beautiful artwork to complex images inviting the reader to linger over them to things inherently interesting to young children (e.g. baby faces, animals, etc).  As a child becomes older (after about age 2 years), does the text connect to images in a way that encourages language?  For example, does reading the story reference items in the images like colors or other features that build vocabulary and help a child develop skills in naming?

 

For some families, it can be important to find at least a few books in which the children look somewhat like themselves, celebrate similar holidays, speak the same languages, or eat similar foods.  I remember the joy with which my son pointed to a photograph of a little girl in a book of nursery rhymes and said it looked like his sister.  This is not a requirement, but children do deserve and delight to see other children with some aspects of their lives similar to their own.

 

Developmentally speaking, is the book's format appropriate?  Board books are designed for young children who do not yet have a "pincer" grasp developed - that pincer grasp is necessary to turn paper pages.

 

Finally, while these are good general principles to keep in mind, one never knows what books will take hold of a child's interest.  Sometimes the most unlikely-seeming choices will enrapture-and that's absolutely fine!

 

"We are not wise enough, we adults, to know what books will be right for any child at any particular moment, but the richer the book, the more imaginative, the more emotionally true, the more beautiful the language, the better the chance it will minister to a child's deep inarticulate fears."

                                    - Katherine Paterson, writing in The Horn Book, Jan/Feb 1991

 

We have closed our comments option due to SPAM, but we welcome your comments on our Facebook and Twitter platforms.

 

Written by Dr. Dipesh Navsaria at 08:15

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Reach Out and Read National Center
89 South St, Suite 201
Boston, MA 02111