Encouraging Families to Read and Learn Together Through the Reach Out and Read Program
October 6, 2020
NEENAH, Wis. – Books build better brains, especially when parents understand the power that comes from sharing books together with their children. In fact, reading daily with children starting at birth has a lasting effect on language and literacy development, caregiver-child relationships and social and emotional health.
“The best time to influence a child's future is in the first five years, a critical window of rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time,” said Stephanie Piwoni CPNP, APNP at ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics-Neenah and ThedaCare Reach Out and Reach Champion. “We want to empower families to incorporate reading aloud into their daily routines and to support them in their role as their child’s first and best teacher.”
Because reading skills are so important, ThedaCare participates in the Reach Out and Read program. The provider discusses the importance of talking, singing and reading and bonding with babies from birth on. During regularly scheduled checkups from 6 months to 5 years, children’s books are used to assess developmental status of children, model engagement techniques with parents and given to the child to take home and enjoy again. Through Reach Out and Read, each child starts kindergarten with a home library of up to eight books.
On Tuesday, October 6, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff is delivering 2,145 books, donated by the Too Small to Fail initiative of the Clinton Foundation, to ThedaCare to distribute among 25 clinics. The donated value is $5 a book, totaling $10,725.
“We are extremely grateful to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin for this generous donation,” said Piwoni. “Through these books, parents and caregivers will be supported in building skills to develop bonds with their children, enhancing their development.”
ThedaCare clinics have been participating in the Reach Out and Read program for several years. 2020 marked a milestone as every ThedaCare clinic is now participating in the program, including:
- Appleton Pediatrics
- Black Creek
- Appleton North
- Appleton West
- Darboy Family Medicine
- Green Lake
- Menasha Family Medicine
- Neenah Menasha-Pediatrics
- New London
- Wild Rose
In this program, medical providers use the Well Child visits to talk with families about the importance of talking, singing and reading aloud with babies from birth on.
“The provider will be using this as an opportunity to do some developmental surveillance. So, when they hand the child the book, they can see how the child interacts with it and how the parent or caregiver interacts with the child and the book,” Piwoni said. “They look for developmentally-appropriate things and can then have a conversation with the parent or caregiver about what they can expect at the age the child is at, and how to incorporate reading.”
Reach Out and Read is the only national network of medical providers ensuring that millions of infants and toddlers do not miss out on critical years of early brain development by integrating early literacy into the healthcare experience, starting at birth. There are 265 participating clinics in 56 Wisconsin counties.