The promotion of reading in your health care setting can have enormous benefits for all. Individual providers can gain a tremendous amount of information in a short period of time through a very natural interaction. Walking into a room, handing a child a book upside-down and watching what he or she does with it can teach a provider in a matter of seconds much about that child’s fine-motor skills, cognition, visual system, color perception, language, and social interactions.
While many providers worry about incorporating “yet another thing” into the visits with their young patients, those who implement Reach Out and Read and similar programs find they enjoy the visits more, gain more information, and spend less time in the end. Providers trained in the developmental strategies of early literacy find that they become so finely attuned to this window into a child’s world that they have difficulty practicing without books available!
Hospitals and clinics that develop literacy-rich waiting areas, exam rooms, and patient spaces send a strong message to children and families about the place reading has in quality health care. By supporting the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations on media in health care settings, health care facilities show their support not only for the physical health of their patients, but for their cognitive and academic well-being as well.
An excellent summary of how reading aloud directly benefits children is available here.