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Reach Out and Read impacts children

January 2013

by Rosanne Fohn

Michael Tovar, 2, and his family
Michael Tovar, 2, and his family are delighted when he receives a brand-new book at the end of his well-child checkup.
Wearing blue-striped overalls, tiny tennis shoes and a gigantic smile, you’d never guess the challenges 2-year-old Michael Tovar has overcome since his premature birth at 24 weeks, weighing just 1 pound, 9 ounces.

However, it’s easy to see how delighted he is to receive a brand-new book at the end of his well-child checkup. Faculty members and medical residents from the Premature Infant Development Premiere Program (PREMIEre) encourage Michael’s parents to read to him every day.

"Children typically receive 10 new books by the time they start school," said Clinical Professor Rebecca Huston, M.D., M.P.H., who directs the Reach Out and Read program in the Children’s Health Center run by the Department of Pediatrics.

"More than 15 peer-reviewed studies have reported the positive impact of the national Reach Out and Read program," which promotes literacy and school readiness, she said.

Third-year medical resident Ryan Van Ramshorst, M.D., added, "The families we see might be working three jobs, so having these books is very meaningful to them," he said. "With their limited budgets, buying books is often not a priority."

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