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A pediatrician like Connecticut Children's Medical Center's Dr. Catherine Wiley sees about 110 low-income children weekly for routine well-child exams. In addition to having their physical development evaluated, those children also walk away with a prescription designed to boost their brain development and prepare them for school. That "prescription" is a book.
Dr. Wiley is one of nearly 400 medical providers across Connecticut who are "prescribing reading" as part of their partnership with Reach Out and Read. Designed to develop critical early literacy skills and a love of reading, Reach Out and Read reaches 40,000 children and their families in Connecticut through 73 clinical locations. We give out nearly 80,000 new books each year.
The concept is incredibly simple. Take a child from a low-income family where books can be rare and parents often too stressed or lacking the knowledge to spend time on reading. When the pediatrician sees that child, she "prescribes" an appropriate book and guides the parents on reading with the child daily. The results are amazing.
Because the book has been prescribed almost as if it were a medication, parents are far more likely to make reading aloud a part of their daily routine. As a result, young children in at-risk homes can build their literacy and oral language skills earlier and become better prepared for school - as they learn the joy of reading.