May 18 2011

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Reading prescription

Premier Pediatrics has now included books on its medical regimen for children. The clinic has eagerly embraced the Reach Out and Read program as it is one of national initiatives now striving to give very young children a head start on their education.
Reach Out and Read targets less-fortunate children who might not otherwise have access to reading material.  It operates via three main elements:
• Volunteers who read to children in pediatric clinic waiting rooms.
• Having pediatricians emphasize to parents the importance of reading to and with their children daily.
• Issuing six-month-old to five-year-old children age-appropriate books at their periodic, six-month checkups.
“Reach Out and Read is such an efficient and effective concept,” said Chief Executive Officer Early Martin Phalen.  “Childhood development experts tell us that the most important thing that parents can do to prepare their children to succeed in school is to read to them aloud every day. Promoting early literacy and school readiness through regular pediatric checkups is a simple model that has a lasting, invaluable impact on the life of a child.”
Phalen is a former foster child who started mentoring children twenty years ago as a Harvard law student.  He reports that almost half of the program’s funding comes from the federal government.  It is now part of more than 80% of the nation’s pediatric residency programs.
Literacy-promoted intervention by pediatricians is a proven means of achieving positive parental behavior, beliefs and attitudes.  Reading aloud is a great influence.  Children receiving this head start begin kindergarten with a significant head start in development because of their larger vocabularies and better language skills. Premier Pediatrics’ Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, Dr. Kristi Bagnell, MD, is enthusiastic about the program’s long-term effects on the clinic’s young patients.
“We are so excited and proud to be the first pediatric practice in Longview to incorporate Reach Out and Read into our well child care,” she said.  “Our patients and parents are responding very favorably.”
Reach Out and Read is a nationwide nonprofit program based on evidence that indicates America’s youngest and most impoverished children benefit greatly from an early introduction to literacy. It already serves about one-third of these children across the country, and is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Currently 27,000 doctors and nurse practitioners are distributing 6.4 million books to 3.9 million children.  By combining reading lessons with pediatric medicine the program brings gives pediatricians a new, crucial role in the future well-being of their young patients.

Dr. Kristi Bagnell reads to Morgan Coyle during a routine visit to Premier Pediatrics

Lisa Gauthier, Carolyn Jackson, and Jeanette Smith

Dr. Samantha Chaikin and Dr. Kristi Bagnell

Permanent link to this article: http://www.easttexasreview.com/reading-prescription/

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