New partnership with Clayne Crawford Foundation creates #rippleeffect

Program sites throughout the state use the Rx for Summer Reading campaign as an opportunity to involve other members of the community in encouraging the children and parents that they serve to stay focused on reading together daily during the summer months. We were honored to begin a new partnership with the Clayne Crawford Foundation during our campaign this summer. Mr. Crawford joined us at the Rx for Summer Reading event at the UAB Primary Care Clinic and read Alabama, My Home Sweet Home, as well as other books to the children in attendance. He also took a tour of the clinic, learning more about the program and how books and brains count!

Clayne Crawford is an American actor born and raised in Clay, Alabama. He understands what great potential can come from engaging with a community founded on family values. Through the work of his Foundation, Mr. Crawford and his supporters are partnering with Reach Out and Read-Alabama to bring hope and support to the children and families in Alabama to help build a community of inspired lives.

Collaboration and partnership doesn’t just stop with the Foundation. Encouraging their supporters to create a #ripple effect, Cereal Killer restaurant held a book drive in Fairhop and collected over 100 books. Elizabeth Haymon, RN, site program coordinator for Eastern Shore Children’s Clinic said, “Our waiting room shelves are now full thanks to the book drive.”

Reach Out and Read included In AFP’s Top 5 Underused Interventions

In the March edition of American Family Physician, promoting childhood literacy development in providing free, age-appropriate books in the clinical setting made the top five list of do’s. 

Programs encouraging childhood literacy such as Reach Out and Read first gained significant support after several studies suggested that parents who received books were more likely to read to and with their children. Literacy promotion efforts among Hispanic populations similarly demonstrate increased engagement.

Other top five underused interventions included:

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As the article suggests, referral to a program such as Alabama’s Help Me Grow, can assist the parents in understanding the developmental milestones of language development and also help navigate community resources based on the needs of the child. Learn more about Help Me Grow referrals here.

Encouraging parent–child book sharing: Potential additive benefits of literacy promotion in health care and the community

A recent study by the NYU Department of Pediatrics provides important new evidence to support intervention programs like Reach Out and Read-Alabama.

• Parents who received both a book and guidance about the importance of reading through Reach Out and Read were more likely to engage in literacy activities with their children through book sharing at home. This relation was not observed in families who only received a book.

• A synergistic impact of additional messaging from different platforms was demonstrated – specifically Reach Out and Read and public library programs.

Over the last nine years, Reach Out and Read-Alabama practices and clinics have participated in a state-wide program, Rx for Summer Reading. This summer for our 10th anniversary,  we are happy to be partnering with the Alabama Bicentennial Committee to share the book, Alabama: My Home Sweet Home to over 2,500 children and their families through this program.  In addition to fun events and activities at participating practices and clinics, children will receive a prescription to participate in the Summer Reading Program at their local library. Visit the Bicentennial Partnership page for more information.

This study reinforces the established evidence base showing that Reach Out and Read along with the same message from community partners like local library partners increases parent engagement in important literacy activities.

Reach Out and Read-Alabama provides brain food for children in poverty

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In Alabama, over 31 percent of children under the age of five live in poverty. 

According to Zero to Three, a substantial portion of young children living in poverty are not getting the inputs they need to thrive, such as nutrition, shelter, and unhurried interactions and other enriching experiences with their parents or other adults. Poverty literally gets under the skin, undermining strong brain development as well as other physiological systems. The same research that finds brain differences in low- income children also finds a key protective ingredient: the parental-child relationship, which can buffer young children from the consequences of adverse experiences.

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Reach Out and Read-Alabama reaches children and families like those served by Andrea and Bama Pediatrics, helping parents to structure a positive interaction with their child each day that will help that child build strong language skills.

Addressing Screen Time Leaves Room for Reading

Addressing Screen Time Leaves Room for Reading

As our children spend the first four to five years of their lives in front of a device (and not a book), thousands of hours in front of a screen has various adverse effects on a rapidly developing brain. There are numerous evidence-based studies correlating excessive screen time to trouble sleeping, attention deficits, learning troubles, aggressive behaviors, delays in language.

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Introducing children to books at an early age helps set a foundation for learning

Introducing children to books at an early age helps set a foundation for learning

Meet Demarcus, a three-year-old boy who presented to Jaime McKinney, MD, FAAP, at UAB Primary Care Clinic in Birmingham. After evaluation and talking with his mother, Dr. McKinney determined that this little boy had only a four-word vocabulary, not because of autism, but because there was zero word exposure in his home environment due to the educational limitations of his parents.

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Make reading a priority and feed your child's brain

Make reading a priority and feed your child's brain

Preparing a child to start to pre-K or kindergarten can be overwhelming. By reading aloud every day, Alabama’s parents build a foundation for success in school through enhancing brain and language development. With your support, Reach Out and Read-Alabama will incorporate books into well-child visits and empower parents to take an active role in this important process in their child’s development. 

Lizz Ford, a single mother, was one of those parents.

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Partnership with children’s author has Alabama roots

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Born and raised in Mountain Brook, author, Allen Johnson, Jr. is well known by children and their parents growing up around Birmingham in the 90’s for his well-loved book series, Picker McClikker.

In an article in the Huffington Post, Johnson says, “I lived a life filled with adventure, travel and success, but my life peaked at nine.” In his book, Fun, a memoir and books of poems and essays, he often reflects on the unfettered joy of growing up under the “benign neglect” of his parents.

Drawing on his childhood memories, Johnson has written a series of three books, collectively known as the Blackwater Novels, which are reminiscent of Mark Twains’ works about boyhood in the 1930’s. While these books are targeted at fourth and fifth graders, they provide opportunities for parents and grandparents to share their childhood adventures with their children and grandchildren when read together.

Through a partnership with Reach Out and Read-Alabama, Johnson has graciously donated 100 of the Moonbeam Award-Winning second book in the Blackwater Novel series, The Dead House.

We are grateful for the donation and look forward to distributing Allen Johnson, Jr.'s book throughout the state this summer to program sites participating in our Rx for Summer Reading Campaign. While the program focuses on children from birth through five years of age, it is always beneficial to have an inventory of books to share with older siblings.

Inside the Exam Room -- Western Health Center

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“This mom came in with her 12-month-old daughter and I could tell the baby was very familiar with books and that mom had been reading to her. She easily took the book and started pointing to all the pictures in the book I gave her. Then mom said that when they go out to eat, the baby loves to look at the menus and she showed me a picture in her iPhone. I asked her to send it to me and she did. They are lovely!”
                ~ Maria Meyers, MD, Jefferson County Department of Health, Western Health Center

We agree Dr. Meyers! According to Reach Out and Read’s Milestones of Early Literacy Development, children from 12-24 months should point and look at pictures, hold and walk with the book and turn the pages. Sheila is building Lisa’s brain by naming each item as she points to the pictures when they are at the restaurant. Because Sheila has been reading to Lisa daily with the books that have been prescribed by Dr. Meyers, she has learned how to use everyday moments to continue that process of learning and language development with her daughter.

"Instead of just an admonishment to read the books, the Reach Out and Read program uses them as a bridge to connect parents and children," said Dr. Dipesh Navasaria, Medical Director of Reach Out and Read-Wisconsin, in a recent article in the Herald-Tribune. Navasaria stresses that programs aimed at babies and young children should really be honing in on parents as the lever that affects a child’s success most.

"We need to help parents view themselves in that role. Every piece of advice, every program, every policy should only strengthen parent-child bonds. Period.”

From Syria to Selma

From Syria to Selma

Following medical school at the University of Aleppo and a pediatric residency at the Medical Center of Delaware, Lofti Bashir, MD, FAAP was recruited by Vaughn Regional Medical Center in Selma. “After a few days in the nursery at the hospital and visiting the area, I felt that there was a need for a pediatrician to serve the children and families here,” said Dr. Bashir. “I convinced my wife, who grew up in New York, to come with me for one year.”

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Alabama Brush, Book, Bed Statewide Initiative in 12 pediatric practices across the state

Alabama Brush, Book, Bed Statewide Initiative in 12 pediatric practices across the state

Using the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Brush, Bed and Book model and thanks to support from the DentaQuest Foundation, the Alabama Chapter-AAP and Reach Out and Read-Alabama, in cooperation with the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, will distribute free materials to 12 practices across the state and guide them on talking with families about early literacy, oral health, and nighttime routines

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Inside the Exam Room ~ Dr. Elizabeth Dawson

Elizabeth Dawson, MD, FAAP and Area 5 Representative for the Alabama Chapter-AAP is the medical consultant for Reach Out and Read-Alabama at Charles Henderson Child Health Center in Troy. A program site since 2001, five providers prescribe 1,400 brand-new books to the children and families that they serve each year.

“As a pediatrician. we have the opportunity to instruct our families regarding the care of their children ~ what to do and what not to do. Through our Reach Out and Read program, I not only have the opportunity to instruct the parent about the importance of reading and sharing a book together every day, but I also get to give them the tool (book) to accomplish this important task. Nothing but good things come from this program and now I consider it an essential part of a well child visit.”