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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. 

 

readabookday

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

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