Pediatricians Prescribe Books During Well-Child Checks

NEWS // October 1, 2015

Pediatricians Prescribe Books During Well-Child Checks

Talk, read and sing to your baby every day.  This is the message that thousands of parents throughout San Diego County will receive at their child’s next well-child check along with a beautiful new book thanks to the Reach Out and Read San Diego Program (RORSD).

More than 250 San Diego nurses and pediatricians are preparing the County’s youngest children to succeed in school by prescribing books and demonstrating to parents how to read to their young children through the support of RORSD. Eighty-four participating pediatric medical offices provided early literacy advice and over 100,000 books last year. 

Giving out new books and literacy advice is not only the “fun part of the day,” as reported by Dr. Marsha Spitzer of Family Health Centers San Diego, but the positive impact is supported by 14 independent peer reviewed research studies.

Exposure to spoken and written word has a tremendous impact on a child’s early brain development and marks the difference between prepared and unprepared students. Recent MRI studies document the changes in a young child’s brain when they have been read to, preparing the area of the brain that supports eventual independent reading. The evidence for reading aloud to young children is so compelling that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy stating that all pediatric primary care should include literacy promotion, starting at birth.

Since parents play the most critical role in their children’s development, it is critical that they have the information, materials, and support they need. Children whose parents provide learning opportunities at home are more prepared for Kindergarten and are better able to succeed in school.  Studies show that children who receive read aloud advice and books from their pediatricians are read to more often and score higher on vocabulary tests. 

The unique and evidence-based Reach Out and Read (ROR) model consists of three simple and effective components:

1) Pediatricians distribute culturally and developmentally appropriate books to children at each well-child visit;

2) Pediatricians advise parents on the importance of reading aloud and provide them with literacy strategies for all developmental stages;

3) Parents incorporate the advice they receive from pediatricians and make reading aloud part of their daily routine. 

ROR’s early literacy program integrates seamlessly into the existing health care delivery model by expanding the depth of services received by families at participating clinics without creating the need for any additional staff at the point of delivery.

RORSD is working to close the achievement gap in San Diego County, one book at a time.

The RORSD program is aligned with the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and funded in part by First 5 San Diego.