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Health Team

Doctors' book program inspires life-long love of reading in kids

Posted October 10

— Child development experts say reading to a child is key to his or her lifelong success, but a child who grows up without bedtime stories or regular access to age-appropriate books might start school far behind his peers.

A nationwide program, though, is providing books for free through pediatricians.

Griffin Lorge, who is 22 months old, can't read yet, but his mom, Jackie Lorge says reading to him began very early.

"We started reading when he was still in the belly, and we've continued to read. He looks forward to it," Lorge said.

Dr. Jill Wright, who works at the University of North Carolina Pediatrics in Garner, includes a brand new, age-appropriate book as a gift during visits. Families receive the books at every well-child visit from 6 months of age to 5 years.

"So, actually kids will get 10 brand new books during that period of time," Wright said.

It's all thanks to the national Reach Out and Read program, which provides the books for 5 million families across the country through trained medical providers.

"The mission is to help parents (and) give them the tools they need to help their children develop a life-long love of reading and learning," said Matt Ferrahuto, a Reach Out and Read board member.

Wright says the books add a new dimension to check-ups, especially when the child is anxious about an exam room.

"It's great to be able to come in with a new book and use that as kind of an introduction for the visit," Wright said.

The books also reveal how much help the parents might need for establishing story times with their child.

"Hearing words and using words and having that interaction with the parent or parent figure is critical for language development," Wright said.

The small gifts help parents inspire their child to love books and make reading a lifelong habit.

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