For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics will promote early literacy as an essential part of primary care visits, and Reach Out and Read in Connecticut is continuing to support that effort.
"Every child that comes into a Reach Out and Read site, at every well child visit from 6 months to five years old, you leave your visit with an age appropriate book," said Kerry McMahon, Fairfield County Regional Programs Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Connecticut.
The Norwalk Community Health Center is just one of 21 Reach Out and Read locations in Fairfield County, with 70 locations in the State of Connecticut.
Dr. Sarah Siegel, Clinical Director of Pediatrics at the Norwalk Community Health Center said, "Part of our well child visit is modeling for the family how to interact with their child with a book; showing them that even if their child is an infant, you can still read a book with them, communicate with them about the book they are reading and the pictures they are seeing and the colors and the shapes."
"It really ties into our Early Childhood Action Plan here in Norwalk that the Early Childhood Council has written as well as what we are doing with Norwalk Acts, which is our craddle to career initiative,"said Mary Oster, Early Childhood Coordinator for the City of Norwalk.
Pediatricians say being able to hand a book to a child during their well visits sparks a love of literacy.
"The new American Academy of Pediatrics statement says that we should be reading aloud to our children from birth and it's really in the first three years of life that they develop such important literacy skills, and we see that here. We distribute the books and at the next visit, kids are so excited to get the next book," said Dr. Siegel.
"Essentially they are going to be building their own little library at home, because every time they come, they are getting a new book," added McMahon.
Now partnering with Scholastic, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Too Small to Fail, the organization hopes to encourage more parents to take a hands on approach in their child's literacy development.
"It all ties together with their social emotional growth and once parents become really aware of what they can do, they have such a great affect on their kids education and it just continues to carry through as they get older," said Oster.
For more information about Reach Out and Read, visit www.reachoutandread.org/connecticut.