Reach Out and Read: Pediatricians Who Prescribe Books to Their Youngest Patients

Nov 20, 2014

On this edition of StudioTulsa on Health, we learn about Reach Out and Read, a long-running nationwide program that, per the "mission" page of its website, "prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.... The program serves more than 4 million children and their families across the nation, with a special emphasis on serving those in low-income communities. In June 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared literacy promotion to be an 'essential component of pediatric care' for all children, referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention to engage parents and prepare children to achieve their potential in school and beyond." And so SToH guest host John Schumann speaks with Dr. Amy Emerson, a Tulsa-based pediatrician who's also the area director of Reach Out and Read's Oklahoma Chapter. As Dr. Emerson explains, it's not really about having doctors give out books in order to help kids learn to read...it's more about docs passing along books to their youngest patients so that they'll learn to love books, and appreciate narratives, and value storytelling and listening and sharing. All of which can then, of course, only help those kids -- especially the ones from poorer or less stable backgrounds -- as they themselves start learning to read. Dr. Emerson adds that the Sooner State now has more than 40 Reach Out and Read clinic locations -- which have thus far served 26,000+ children -- with some 39,000 or so books distributed annually.