Engaging conversations with experts in childhood health and literacy.
A podcast centered on the belief that children’s books build better brains, better family relationships, and happier, healthier children and societies. Join us as host Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a pediatrician with a children’s librarianship degree dives into a wealth of varied early childhood health and literacy topics with expert guests examining the many facets of supporting the parent-child relationship as key to early success.
Research shows reading physical books together brings the strongest benefits to children. That’s why we’re happy to have Boise Paper – a responsible paper manufacturer – sponsor this podcast. Through their Paper with Purpose promise, Boise Paper looks for ways to make a difference in local communities.Thank you to Boise Paper for investing in our Reach Out and Read community.
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We are continually inspired by stories that encourage language, literacy, and positive moments and we would love to hear yours.
Philanthropy touches our lives on a daily basis, but the decision-making process by those who hold the so-called ‘purse strings’ can be seemingly shrouded in secrecy. We talked to Dr. Katie Beckmann and Ira Hillman from the Packard Foundation and Einhorn Collaborative, respectively, who took us behind the scenes to help demystify the world of philanthropy.
Katherine Beckmann is a Program Officer for the Children, Families, and Communities subprogram at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. In this role, Dr. Beckmann oversees the children’s health strategy and leads efforts to protect and advance federal policies that support paid family leave, health, and early care and education. She is particularly interested in the intersection of child development, disease prevention, and health promotion to better prepare young children for lifelong education. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Beckmann served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Early Childhood Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where she coordinated, integrated, and implemented early childhood health and development policies and initiatives across Head Start, child care, Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, and Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting programs. Dr. Beckmann received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology with Distinction at Columbia University where her research focused on social and environmental risk factors leading to toxic stress during pregnancy and cognitive outcomes in preschoolers. She earned her B.A. in Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis and M.P.H. in Health Policy and Administration at Yale University.
Ira Hillman leads the Bonding strategy at Einhorn Collaborative. Einhorn Collaborative is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to addressing America’s growing crisis of connection. By advancing the science and practice of empathy, mutual understanding, and relationship building, we can rediscover our common humanity and solve our nation’s greatest challenges together. The Bonding strategy at Einhorn Collaborative supports collectives of funders and programs that help parents and their babies establish and maintain an emotional connection. Pediatrics Supporting Parents is one of those collaborative efforts, leveraging pediatric well-visits to support parents in promoting children’s social and emotional development and nurturing parent-child relationships. Throughout Ira’s career and personal volunteer activities, he has worked with organizations to transform their operations, develop new strategies, and build stronger collaborations among stakeholder groups. Prior to joining Einhorn Collaborative, Ira spent a decade and a half in Washington DC where he was the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff for the National Breast Cancer Coalition following his tenure as the Managing Director of Round House Theatre. Ira has also worked for the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, where he continues to serve as President of his undergraduate class and as a steering committee member for initiatives that promote multicultural outreach and engagement among Penn alumni.
Technology has been an indispensable tool during the pandemic, but how has the massive shift to an almost exclusively online life affected children? Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, and Dr. Jenny Radesky, a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and author of notable American Academy of Pediatrics statements on digital media join us for a thoughtful, considered conversation on how to navigate this world.”
Sal Khan is the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, a nonprofit educational organization that offers free lessons in math, science, and humanities in multiple languages, as well as tools for parents, teachers, and districts to track student progress.
Dr. Jenny Radesky is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician whose NIH-funded research focuses on mobile and interactive media use, child social-emotional development, and parent-child interaction. Her clinical work focuses on autism, ADHD, and advocacy for families facing poverty and adversity. She authored the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statements about digital media use by young children in 2016, and digital advertising to children in 2020.
An antidote to distraction in the modern age? A way to build better brains through books? Or simply a treasured memory of childhood — and parenting? We discuss all these aspects of shared reading aloud with Meghan Cox Gurdon, the children’s book reviewer for The Wall Street Journal, and author of “The Enchanted Hour.”
Meghan Cox Gurdon is an essayist, book critic, and former foreign correspondent who has been the Wall Street Journal’s children’s book reviewer since 2005. Her work has appeared widely, in publications such as the Washington Examiner, the Daily Telegraph, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and National Review. A graduate of Bowdoin College, she lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband, Hugo Gurdon, and their five children.
One might think that investing in programs that meaningfully support children, families, and early learning can’t possibly survive the “red tape” of government bureaucracy. But when the right people with the right focus are involved, innovative and creative approaches can become a reality. This week, we talk to Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Elizabeth Erickson, Medical Director of Family Connect – Durham to talk about North Carolina’s use of federal Health Service Initiative funding to expand early literacy programming.
Alice Ozma, author of “The Reading Promise”, and her father Jim Brozina, a children’s librarian, join us to talk about their read-aloud adventure lovingly known as “The Streak” – a remarkable reading challenge that culminated in an incredible 3,218 nights in a row of reading aloud.
In the second half of the show, actor Kyliegh Curran treats us to a read-aloud story perfect for this holiday season.
Alice Ozma talking about the magic that happens when someone reads aloud to you.
Jason Reynolds was born in Washington, DC and raised in neighboring Oxon Hill, Maryland, Reynolds found inspiration in rap to begin writing poetry at nine years old. He focused on poetry for approximately the next two decades, only reading a novel cover to cover for the first time at age 17 and publishing several poetry collections before he published his own first novel, When I Was The Greatest, in 2014.
He won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for this first work of prose and seven more novels followed in the next four years, including Ghost (2016) and two more books in what became his New York Times best-selling Track series, Patina (2017) and Sunny (2018); As Brave As You (2016), winner of the 2016 Kirkus Prize, the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teen, and the 2017 Schneider Family Book Award; and a Marvel Comics novel called Miles Morales: Spider-Man (2017). Reynolds returned to poetry with Long Way Down (2017), a novel in verse which was named a Newbery Honor Book, a Printz Honor Book, and best young adult work by the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards. Jason is the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2020 and 2021.
Reading aloud brings people together, and we thank every person who reads aloud to a child. To mark this holiday devoted to giving thanks, we asked three children’s authors — Traci Sorell, Ann Clare LeZotte, and Dr. Sayantani DasGupta — to read aloud their own stories of gratitude. Click here for complete show transcripts.
Traci Sorell: Cherokee Nation citizen and award-winning author of fiction, nonfiction, short stories and poems for young people. A former federal Indian law attorney and advocate, she lives with her family within her tribe’s reservation in northeastern Oklahoma. You can find out more about her work online at www.tracisorell.com and @tracisorell via Twitter and Instagram.
Ann Clare LeZotte is the author of Show Me a Sign (a 2020 School Library Journal Book of the Year, four starred reviews) and a forthcoming companion novel. A long-time youth services librarian who focused on underserved populations and inclusion, Ann is Deaf, bi-lingual, and bi-cultural. “I never had a romance about being ‘special’ or ‘different,’” she says. “I wished long and hard to be normal, a waste of time and a heartbreak I don’t want other young people to experience.” In her free time, Ann enjoys swimming and walking her dog, Perkins. She lives with her family in Gainesville, Florida.
Sayantani DasGupta is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed, Bengali folktale and string theory-inspired Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond books, the first of which—The Serpent’s Secret—was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, a Booklist Best Middle-Grade Novel of the 21st Century, and an EB White Read Aloud Honor Book. Sayantani is a pediatrician by training but now teaches at Columbia University. When she’s not writing or reading, Sayantani spends time watching cooking shows with her trilingual children and protecting her black Labrador retriever Khushi from the many things that scare him, including plastic bags. She is a team member of We Need Diverse Books, and can be found online at sayantanidasgupta.com and on Twitter at @sayantani16
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof has covered neglected social and economic welfare topics all over the world, but his most recent book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching For Hope is an exploration of poverty in America seen through a very personal lens – the community in which Nick grew up. Strikingly, while many may focus on the importance of support for adults, rehabilitation, and remediation, Nick and his co-author and wife, Sheryl WuDunn, chose to put the focus on something near and dear to the heart of this podcast: the dramatic, deep, and powerful importance of early foundational health.
Nicholas D. Kristof, journalist and a columnist for The New York Times since 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He has co-authored several books with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, including A Path Appears, Half the Sky, and their latest collaboration Tightrope: Americans Reaching For Hope.
We are joined by Mark Del Monte, CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Dr. Nate Chomilo, pediatrician and policy expert from Minnesota to discuss how the world of policy affects the everyday lives of children and families — and the issues to keep in mind as we vote this year.
Mark Del Monte, JD, serves as the CEO/Executive Vice President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In this capacity, Mark leads a strong chief executive team for the organization which serves 67,000 pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialist members. Prior to this role, Mark served as the AAP’s Chief Deputy and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and External Affairs where he directed the organization’s communications, public relations, and advocacy activities. Prior to joining AAP in 2005, Mark served as Director of Policy and Government Affairs for the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families, a national organization advocating for children and families with HIV/AIDS. Before moving to Washington, DC, Mark worked as a lawyer in his home state of California, providing direct legal services to HIV-positive, low-income children and families. Mark holds a law degree from the University of California (Berkeley) and a bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University.
Dr. Nathan T. Chomilo is Medical Director for the State of Minnesota’s Medicaid & MinnesotaCare programs and practices as a General Pediatrician and an Internal Medicine Hospitalist with Park Nicollet Health Services/HealthPartners. He is currently the Interim Policy and Advocacy Workgroup Chair for the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Minority Health Equity and Inclusion. He serves on the boards of the MN chapter of the AAP and Reach Out and Read Minnesota, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School and is a co-founder of the organization Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity (MDHEQ). His advocacy work has been recognized by the City of Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights which recognized him as a 2019 History Maker at Home recipient.
It’s easy to think that the way we think about children and parenting is the way it’s always been — the birth of a child is accompanied by the expectation that that baby will grow up happy, healthy, and become an adult. However, a mere century ago, that wasn’t necessarily the case—infant mortality was much, much higher, many children died before adolescence. So what changed? How has the role of parenting transformed? And how have our hopes, dreams, and expectations for children become different?
Dr. Perri Klass, author of the new book A Good Time to Be Born joins us to talk about the social, and medical, events that transformed childhood, and parenting.
Dr. Perri Klass is a pediatrician, author, and writer of “The Checkup”, a weekly column on children’s issues for the New York Times. She is also the world’s only Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics, at New York University. Dr. Klass is the National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read and writes about children and families, medicine, food, travel, and knitting.
Early foundational relationships are the strongest predictor of young children’s long-term success — what happens to kids in those early months and years of life sets the stage for how they relate to others and the world around them, and how those others relate to them.
Dr. David Willis, Developmental-Behavioral pediatrician and Senior Fellow with the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and Claudia Aristy, Director of Children of Bellevue’s Reach Out and Read Program, join us to talk about how families—and the professionals that support them—can create and maintain robust early relational health.
Chelsea Clinton, author, advocate, and vice-chair of the Clinton Foundation joins us to talk about growing up with books, the role of books in her own children’s lives, and the importance of reading programs to support all children and families.
Children’s books can bring much comfort and insight for children and adults alike. With all that is happening in our world, we figured that now is a good time to ask: What Meaning do Children’s Books Have in a Time of Crisis? Books represent a familiar, calming activity, almost like an anchor in rough seas.
We’re joined by author of award-winning and internationally acclaimed books including When Lions Roar,Who? and Crash! Boom!Robie Harris, she tackles serious issues while weaving the truth of children into her stories. During times of crisis, she stresses portraying in books the strong, yet perfectly normal feelings children experience! We are also joined by Leonard Marcus, historian and leading writer about children’s books and the people who create them. “The nature of storytelling is that it puts a shape on the chaos of real life,” said Marcus.
As the Flint, Michigan water crisis played out within government and the media, it became readily apparent that a major factor in the crisis was that the communities most affected were largely poor, mostly minorities, and without political power. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the doctor who uncovered Flint’s water crisis and led its recovery efforts, joins us to talk about disparities and social determinants of health.
We know that books serve as mirrors to children, providing reflections of themselves, as well as windows, letting them see others and their experiences. We know that a broad, diverse range of depictions helps children see that from a young age. However, we also know that the range of diversity in children’s books is nowhere near as rich as it could and should be.
On this special, inaugural episode of the Reach Out & Read Podcast, we’re joined by Dr. Monique Jindal, an internal medicine and pediatrics physician at Johns Hopkins, and Meg Medina, author of the Newbery Medal-winning book Merci Suárez Changes Gears. They’ll be discussing the importance of diversity in children’s literature and lives.
There’s also a special bonus episode with Ashley Lukashevsky, illustrator of Antiracist Baby, who will share her creative process and craft with us in writing and illustrating children’s books with diversity in mind.
Meet the Host
To the best of our knowledge, there is only one pediatrician anywhere who got a master’s in library science in the middle of his medical training, all to learn more about children’s literature. That is our host, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria. A practicing pediatrician in Wisconsin, Dr. Navsaria is the Medical Director of ROR Wisconsin, co-chair of the Early Literacy Subcommittee of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Early Childhood, and many other initiatives involving the psychosocial world of children, their families, and society, from policy to parenting support. An associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, he lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife, two children, two cats, a dog, and backyard chickens. He has a deep-seated dependence on wearing bowties, of which he owns far too many…but all of which he can tie without a mirror, in under a minute!