Business leaders from throughout the county will come together on Thursday, April 26 at noon at Dothan Pediatric Clinic to learn about how Reach Out and Read impacts the future of the community by preparing America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
During the luncheon, the business leaders will hear the latest research from Nobel Prize winning University of Chicago Economics Professor James Heckman regarding ways to gain a more productive and valuable workforce that pays dividends to America for generations to come. Jeff Coleman, President & CEO, Coleman World Group, will present the data to his colleagues, impressing upon them the importance of early childhood education through programs such as Reach Out and Read.
Reach Out and Read is a simple, yet highly effective concept. The program targets children growing up in poverty and without books and features three key elements:
- Volunteers read with children in pediatric clinic waiting areas;
- Pediatricians educate parents about the importance of reading with their children every day, and;
- At every regular checkup between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, each child receives a new, age-appropriate book to take home and keep.
"Childhood development experts tell us that the most important thing that parents can do to prepare their children to succeed in school is to read aloud to them every day. Reading helps expose kids to new words and new worlds, and it helps bring families closer together," said Dr. Michelle Freeman, Reach Out and Read Medical Coordinator at Dothan Pediatric Clinic.
Medical research supports that claim, showing that literacy promoting interventions by the pediatrician have a significant effect on parental behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes toward reading aloud. For more than a decade, studies have indicated that parents who get books and literacy counseling from their doctors and nurses are more likely to read to their young children, read to them more often, and provide more books in the home. In addition, children served by Reach Out and Read enter kindergarten better prepared to succeed, with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills.