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Read More...Doctor’s Orders!!!

Brooke Slezak

My most passionate education issue is early literacy.

Reach Out and Read is a non-profit organization that supports my passion!  This program partners with doctors in all 50 states to promote early literacy and teach parents how to read to their children.

More than 1/3 of American children enter kindergarten without the basic language skills they need to learn to read.  Since pediatricians see both children and parents from the day the children are born, they are in a great position to give children a head start on reading.  Working primarily with low income kids, these doctors prescribe READING!!  It’s a simple intervention during a well check visit.  The doctors monitor not only the physical health, but emphasize how important it is to read, sing and even talk with their children.  At every well check visit, a new book (age appropriate) is given to take home.  Physical health and early literacy go hand-in-hand at these offices.  

Not only do these pediatricians recommend reading, some also have volunteers reading in their waiting rooms.  These moments are never short of magical!  In my experience, the children will come into the office either not feeling well or for a routine well-check.  My reading area is set up with a variety of books in both English and Spanish (abc, picture, seek and find, rhyming, song, favorite characters, holiday, fairy tales, etc.).  Many of the children are shy at first, but are very curious to check out the book selection.  At this particular office, there is no television, just a few learning toys.  While I am reading, children will start 15 feet away from me and slowly creep closer until they are sitting on my lap!  Sometimes the children even want to read to me!  At the same time, the parents are sitting and watching their children’s reactions to the beauty of a story.  Some days there are only a few, while other days I am hosting a story-time session!

There is an extraordinary value in investing in children in the first, most important years of life.  Reading aloud not only is one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it builds motivation, curiosity and memory. 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more you learn, the more places you will go.”

-Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”

For more information, go to to find an office in your state that supports this incredible program.  The time commitment of being a volunteer is small, but the impact as well as the rewards are huge!

Nicole Nita is the 2011 Mom Congress delegate from Indiana.  Nicole’s strongest attribute is her ability to inspire others to become involved. She is a natural leader, involved parent and frequent school volunteer.