In addition to the standard routine of vaccines and reflex checks, for the last 20 years pediatricians in northwest Ohio have shared the importance of literacy through the gift of a book to their littlest patients.
Reach Out and Read of Northwest Ohio, an offshoot of a national program started in Boston, provides books during pediatric appointments. Children up to 5 years old are able to get a developmentally appropriate book at every checkup through the the University of Toledo Department of Pediatrics program.
“It's just a great time from a provider’s perspective to share enjoyment with young children and books and try to cultivate family time around literacy,” said Dr. Cathi Badik, of Rocket Pediatrics. “The more we talk to our kids and are sharing language ... the better off kids are with speech and language development.”
The program gives out more than 28,000 books a year to 14,000 children at health-care providers across northwest Ohio — and more than 258,000 in its two decades.
Lori LeGendre, program director for the local Reach Out and Read, said wellness checks provide an excellent opportunity for physicians — typically regarded by parents as a trusted expert for other health-related concerns — to talk about the developmental benefits of reading.
“We've had many families tell us that the only books they have at home are the books they got at the doctor,” she said.
To celebrate the program’s 20 years, organizers are seeking to collect 20,000 books. The program relies on grants and donations, and has a waiting list of health providers wishing to participate.
“We never have enough [books],” Ms. LeGendre said. “Next year we need 29,000 more.”
To make a monetary donation, visit booksbythebushel.com/RORNWOH. The program is also accepting new and gently used books. For more information, call 419-291-0038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be dropped off at the Ruppert Health Center on the UT Health Science Campus, 3125 Transverse Dr.
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