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Reach Out and Read-Alabama launches annual summer campaign encouraging families to read together

Matt Boster

Viewed: 634

Posted by: Matt Boster
Date: Jul 15 2017 9:35 AM

Reach Out and Read-Alabama pediatric practices will celebrate its annual summer campaign that promotes families reading together.  Since 2006, Reach Out and Read pediatric healthcare providers have prescribed over 1.7 million brand-new books to the state’s youngest and most underserved children. This year, copies of the book Sometimes I Feel Sunny by Gillian Shields will be prescribed by pediatric healthcare providers statewide.

Sometimes I Feel Sunny activities sponsored by Dothan Pediatric Clinic are being held on July 20 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Activities will include a discussion about emotions that helps children understand grumpy days and sunny days are all part of life, and that sometimes everybody feels strong emotions.  A canvas of the book’s cover is painted with space left to add flower petals with the fingerprint of each child in a color corresponding to their current feelings.  Dr. Michelle Freeman will read the book to children in the waiting area during the afternoon.

Teaming up with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the lead agency for Alabama’s Early Intervention System, Reach Out and Read-Alabama practices and clinics will host events that will help parents identify early developmental milestones, as well as provide Early Intervention referral information and access to services and supports through Child Find (1-800-543-3098) when needed.  According to the Urban Child Institute, children’s experiences in their earliest years affect how their brains work, the way they respond to stress, and their ability to form trusting relationships. During these years, the brain undergoes its most dramatic growth, setting the stage for social and emotional development. Language blossoms, basic motor abilities form, thinking becomes more complex, and children begin to understand their own feelings and those of others.

“Prescribing a book during each check-up gives us the opportunity to connect with parents and create a partnership in the lifelong journey of learning and the development of their child. What’s even better is that new studies are documenting the effectiveness of the unexpectedly complex interactions that occur when you put a small child on your lap and open a picture book,” said Michelle Freeman, MD, FAAP, Reach Out and Read medical coordinator for Dothan Pediatric Healthcare Network.

The evidence-based Reach Out and Read program builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. With more than15 peer-reviewed studies and a recommendation by the AAP, Reach Out and Read is an effective intervention that incorporates early literacy into pediatric practice, equipping parents with tools and knowledge to ensure that their children are prepared to learn when they start school. During regular, one-on-one visits with the doctor, families grow to understand the powerful and important role they play in supporting their children’s development.  Parents gain the confidence and skills that enable them to support the development of their child, early language and literacy at home.

Currently, 60 of Alabama’s pediatric practices and clinics serve as Reach Out and Read-Alabama program sites in 30 counties, impacting 40 percent of the state’s children under the age of five. Dothan Pediatric Clinic celebrates 14 years as a Reach Out and Read program site, and prescribes over 5,200 books each year.

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