Reading books can open up a new world for children, allowing them to develop and expand their knowledge, use their imagination and be creative. Parents who read to their children are nurturing relationships and preparing them to be successful in school.
UF Health recognizes the important link between literacy and child development. Three practices are currently participating in book giveaways for their patients. Primary care providers at UF Health Family Medicine and Pediatrics – Elizabeth G. Means Center, UF Health Family Medicine – Lem Turner and UF Health Pediatrics – San Jose integrate books into their well-child visits through the national nonprofit Reach Out and Read.
According to Reach Out and Read, reading together promotes healthy brain development, furthers language acquisition and helps families build meaningful bonds. Children 6 months to 5 years old receive free, age-appropriate books at each well-child visit. The books are educational, multicultural and available in English or Spanish. Providers model book interaction by showing parents how to hold books so children can follow along and establish reading routines.
Ross Jones, MD, MPH, medical director at the E.G. Means Center, learned about Reach Out and Read during his residency. The location has offered the program since 2016, and Jones and his team have witnessed the impact reading makes in healthy child development. They have given away more than 1,500 books and, through community donations, have also given books to older children.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive with both parents and children looking forward to receiving the books,” Jones said. “We ask questions about the book to see if the child understands colors, letters and numbers. It’s a great resource for helping us determine whether a child is meeting developmental milestones.”