Why Do Doctors Give Raising Readers Books at Well-Child Visits?

So often, we’re asked “Why do doctors give Raising Readers’ books at well-child visits?” The short answer: reading aloud to babies and children is one of the most important acts a parent or caregiver can do to promote brain development. And, a prescription to read reminds parents that the special time spent reading together helps babies learn to love books and strengthens the bond between parent and child.

As Maine Goes, So Goes the Nation

books well child visit

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2014 recommending that physicians promote early literacy by counseling parents and caregivers about the benefits of reading aloud to their children, starting from birth.

Fourteen years before that statement’s release, Raising Readers started giving new Maine families a tote of books at the hospital. As the baby grows, at every well-child visit through the age of five, families receive a brand new, age-appropriate book to call their own to not only build home libraries and the love of books and reading. Eighteen years after its start, Raising Readers has given over 2.6 million books to over 260,000 Maine Children.

Why does Raising Readers’ have doctor’s give books at well-child visits?

Not only do parents trust their doctor’s advice, but doctors offer the most consistent professional outreach in a child’s first five years. 96% of Maine children visit the doctor’s office for well-child care at least once a year. That means that parents hear the same message from their child’s healthcare provider at each visit: reading aloud is important. Specifically, reading aloud in the first five years is especially valuable because the majority (an astounding 85%) of a child’s brain is developed during this time.

Reading with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships, to foster early language skills and to promote children’s development. —James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, AAP President

A recent study revealed that Raising Readers is making a difference in the lives of Maine families. Families are reading more, talking more and engaging more with their young children and their books. Doctors are more aware of the importance of early literacy and more connected to their young patients.

When does a child receive a book from the doctor?

In addition to receiving a tote of books at birth, children receive a book at every scheduled well-child visit from 2 months until the child turns five years old. Just this year, Raising Readers added a 30 month book to the annual suite. That’s a library of about 12 brand new books Maine children can call their very own.

2 months

18 months

4 months 24 months
6 months 30 months*
9 months 36 months
12 months 48 months
15 months 60 months

* A book is given at the 30 month visit only if the practice offers the 30 month visit to patients.

How does reading aloud to a baby and young child benefit them in the long-run?

Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to learn to read. Children who enter school with these skills have an advantage that carries with them throughout their school years. However, more than 1 in 3 American children enter Kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read (American Academy of Pediatrics). Reading is an essential skill for success in school and later in life.

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