“My feeling is that if you can read, you can do anything. If you can read, you can do anything you want!”

According to Dr. Seuss in I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” That’s a philosophy Brewton pediatrician Marsha Raulerson, MD, FAAP can easily get behind.

“We’ve given out truckloads of books to our patients,” Dr. Raulerson said. “I give a book to every child for every visit, no matter what the age of the child. My community probably contributes about $10,000 a year so we can buy a new book for every patient.”

In fact, no child who visits Dr. Raulerson’s clinic leaves empty-handed. The books she chooses for her patients are not only age-appropriate, but also story-appropriate to each patient’s particular situation. The majority of her patients have special needs, and each book is intended to give her patients hope.

“My feeling is that if you can read, you can do anything.
If you can read, you can do anything you want!”

Dr. Raulerson laughed when she first realized how long she had been practicing in Brewton, and how many patients had come through her clinic. She shook her head and smiled when she admitted that it didn’t initially dawn on her just how many generations of patients she had treated. She is now distributing books to the third generation of children that relies on her practice for medical care and literacy advice.

“I have grand-patients!” she laughed. “I have lots of families of three generations of patients, and I remember them all. All my patients are so special to me, and they’ve all received so many books from the clinic. Now, when they tell me that those books helped to create a special bond with their children and grandchildren, that’s heartwarming.”

Many of those former patients as well as current ones celebrated this summer with Dr. Raulerson at her program’s 20-year anniversary. Beginning in December 1996 as the third pediatric practice in the country to implement the nationwide program, Dr. Raulerson has now prescribed over
50,000 brand-new books to the children in her practice.

“Providing books to my patients and showing families how to use the book with their children has been shown to increase their reading readiness by almost six months,” Dr. Raulerson said. “The books they receive from me at each visit is integral to the literacy development of my patient population.”