MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – A trip to the pediatrician happens quite frequently for parents to help the kids deal with colds and shots; but a local program is helping match pediatricians with a reading curriculum to help kids get a jump start on literacy.
“For many families, they don’t even have books at home, it’s an incredibly important program because these are some of the only books they have,” Dr. Gwen Wurm explained to CBS4’s Nicole Maristany.
The program is called “The Reach Out and Read” program. It will pair a pediatrician with age appropriate books and a reading curriculum for parents to help their little ones start reading early.
“Research shows that if you intervene in the first five years of life and partner with parents, you can dramatically improve the early literacy skills of a child, putting them on the track for success in school and in life,” said Reach Out and Read CEO Earl Martin Phalen.
Pediatricians say parent interaction is key to a baby’s brain developing.
“Kids want to learn because they are stimulated to learn because they get a response from adults. They don’t get that from TV or video. Parents don’t realize that they are the absolute most valuable teachers for their kids,” said Dr. Wurm.
And parents like, Shena Smith, said they see progress, “Ever since I’ve been sitting down with her with the books that she gives me every visit, I read it to her you can see the difference.”
Currently, pediatricians in more than 200 hospitals, health centers, and clinics in Florida work with the program, but Reach Out and Read has hopes of growing.
“Obviously, our limitation is funding, because it does cost money for books,” explained Dr. Wurm. “Gently used books can be accepted in many pediatricians offices for giving to siblings since the program really goes up to about the age of five.”
Smith said the books have helped her bond with her daughter.
“When she grabs a book, either she’ll bring it to me or she’ll bring it to her father and she’ll put it in our laps and she wants us to read it to her,” said Smith.
For more information on how to “Reach Out and Read” with your child, contact Neighbors 4 Neighbors at 305-597-4404 or click here.