NEWBERRY —Pediatrics of Newberry is helping children get a head start on their reading skills before they enter kindergarten.
The pediatric clinic is the only one in Newberry County that offers the Reach Out and Read program which is a nationwide effort.
The program is for pediatricians offices and family practices and is meant to introduce reading to children and to have the parent or adult read at least 15 minutes a day to the child.
Dr. Becky White is a pediatrician with Pediatrics of Newberry said, “At each wellness checkup, each child from six months to age five gets a book.”
The program used to be a federal program but now it is funded by the state as well as private donations, White said.
As for the process, White explains that they must raise $500 through donations in order to receive books for their clinic. In return, they get about $250 worth of books. They also talk about the importance of reading and what pictures mean as well, White said.
“There have been more than 15 peer reviewed studies showing it works,” said White. “It was started by a pediatrician who realized patients didn’t have a lot of books at home.”
“We gave out 2,000 books last year. Every child receives one,” said White.
When young children are read to, they gain language development, a love of reading, knowledge and information, literacy skills including vocabulary, phonics and familiarity with printed words, brain development and bonding, according to the program.
White emphasized the importance of language development and said that she has noticed how children improve.
“I do see kids who can properly hold a book and by age two, they know what a book is and how to turn the pages,” said White.
White emphasizes reading all throughout the day but especially at bed time.
“It helps them settle in at night,” she said.
Even if parents can’t speak English or not fully literate, they can still point at the signs or pictures with their children. In fact in the Pediatrics of Newberry waiting room and doctors offices, they carry plenty of magazines for children and parents to look through.
If anyone is interested in helping out the Reach Out and Read program, they can contact Pediatrics of Newberry at 405-0220 or go online to the Reach Out and Read website at www.rorcarolinas.org or visit www.scholastic.com.