As the new president of the Chapter, I am happy to thank all of you that have helped create a brighter future for our children and families through our program, Reach Out and Read-Alabama in 2017. As a program of the Chapter for the past 12 years, we have seen physicians and other medical providers throughout the state prescribe almost 2 million brand-new books at well-child visits.
This program is important for two reasons:
1. The provider/patient interaction is a private, protected time set in the context of an ongoing relationship throughout the life of the child. By presenting a book to a family in this setting, our providers are able to discuss and evaluate appropriate development, witness the child-caregiver interaction and explain the importance of reading as a vehicle to enhance early childhood brain development.
Research shows that when pediatricians promote literacy readiness according to the Reach Out and Read model, there is a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud, as well as improvements in the language scores of young children who participate. These effects have been found in ethnically and economically diverse families nationwide.
2. The family gets to take home a great, brand-new developmentally appropriate book. Many of the families that Reach Out and Read serves do not have any books at home.
When a trusted physician or other medical provider offers guidance about reading aloud to infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and provides a book to read, parents have an opportunity to give their children the best start in life.
I speak from experience. In March, our practice in Florence will celebrate its 10th year with our Reach Out and Read-Alabama program. During that time, I have been able to witness in the lives of the families we serve the impact of one book and an ongoing message of how the parent can help their child’s brain development through daily book-sharing.
Of all that we do in our daily practice, this is an interaction we value and are grateful for each day!
We invite you to join our team of “brain-builders” in 2018 as we seek to impact the lives of Alabama’s children through expanding this important program to other practices and clinics across the state!
Wes Stubblefield, MD, FAAP
President, Alabama Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics
Medical Consultant, Reach Out and Read-Alabama Infants' and Children's Clinic