Thursday, July 14, 2011

Raising Literacy Skills in Doctor's Waiting Rooms

Remember our article on how our books were used for therapy? Here's another example of how books in doctor's clinics in Iowa are encouraging children to read.

Via Muscatine Journal
Dr. Michael Maharry knows a good diagnostic tool when he sees one, and over the lunch hour Tuesday, he saw a whole shelf full.

Maharry, medical director at Muscatine's UI Health Care at 3465 Mulberry Ave., was in the lobby with his three-year-old daughter, Sabrina, when officials with Iowa Public Television and the Reach Out and Read Iowa coalition delivered a new Raising Readers Learning Center to town.

The 100 or so children's books, a flatscreen television and DVD player are designed to raise children's literacy skills while they wait to see a doctor.

Reading a book is a good pastime for children waiting to see a doctor, but having so many developmentally appropriate books in the lobby is a good thing for physicians as well, Maharry said.

Reading with a young child "is a good way (for a doctor) to assess development," including fine motor and communication skills, said Maharry, who practices family medicine. He labeled Tuesday's donation "fantastic" because "the more literate the child, the healthier the child."

Being read to certainly builds a child's vocabulary: a child who's read to between the ages of 0-5 has heard 3 million more words by the time he or she begins kindergarten than a child who's not read to, she said.

Reach Out and Read began in 1989 when a pair of Boston pediatricians noticed that children's books were exiting their waiting room in surprising numbers.

The doctors weren't angry: they knew children were filching books because they weren't readily available at home.

Today, more than 28,000 doctors, nurse practitioners and other health professionals participate in Reach Out and Read. In Iowa, about 52,000 children are served annually, having received more than 80,000 free books.
Read the entire article here.

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