“I got all As and Bs!” Seven-year old Davon is bursting with the news as he rushes into East End Pediatrics in Henrico County, waving his latest report card.He turns to his 4-year-old brother and offers to help him choose a new book to take home at the end of his well-child visit. Addie Briggs, MD, a Richmond pediatrician, notes the pride on the face of Davon’s mother. The doctor is well aware of the enthusiasm this young mom has shown in preparing both her sons to succeed in school, despite difficult family circumstances. After, all, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
The fact is, many children developmentally and culturally appropriate books provided by the program, as a tool to assess the development of their young patients.
Perhaps more importantly, pediatricians use the books to provide guidelines for every parent about reading aloud at each developmental stage. In addition, gently used books in bookcases in the waiting room are available to help families stock their own home libraries. This opens an important dialogue that links the pediatrician, as a trusted messenger, with the parents who growing up in low-income households have no children’s books available to them in their homes. Reach Out and Read Virginia is helping to change that – book by book and child by child. From the time a child is six months old until the age of five, hundreds of medical practitioners in Richmond and throughout Virginia counsel young patients and their parents about the importance of reading aloud. During every well-child visit, participating medical practitioners use training received from ROR, and the are responsible for reading aloud to their children, and finally, to the educational success of their children. Children served by the program have been shown to score significantly higher on vocabulary tests and, as Dr. Briggs explains, the children are excited about reading and learning.Furthermore, this dialogue created by the ongoing prescription for reading during well-child visits continues even as the children graduate out of the ROR program and begin elementary school.
Reach Out and Read Virginia programs now serve over 16,550 children in 13 clinics in the Richmond area and over 124,000 kids statewide. Nationally, ROR gives out six million books to four million children annually. The program engages members of the community from schools and church groups who collect gently-used books for the pediatric waiting rooms. Girl Scouts and other volunteer groups have created literacy-rich, cheerful waiting rooms in area practices and clinics. Lastly, when possible, university students and other volunteers read aloud in the waiting rooms.
Reinforcing the effectiveness of the ROR program in preparing children for success in school, Carolyn Boone, MD, who has administered the program from her Belvidere medical practice for many years, says, “Children, who began the Reach Out and Read program in my office as babies, begin school excited by books and learning. They are excited about doing well in school. I see it every day when they proudly show me their [successful] SOL results. I can see that the parents are proud too.”
To donate new or gently used books, please call 804-521-0425 to make arrangements for convenient drop-off. Visit rorva.org for more information.