The love for reading is started early in a young mind. Whereas a child’s initial introduction to a book was encouraged to begin at six months of age, some professionals are now taking a look at parents starting reading to their newborns. Following that philosophy of developing a child’s want to read at a tender age, Reach Out and Read Colorado has made it their mission to see that almost every young child in the state is given that opportunity.
Seeing a need, especially among families struggling financially, Reach Out and Read Colorado operates on the idea that doctors be the catalyst to start the conversation about reading. By prescribing books to children at their regular checkups, the door is opened with the gift of a book. “The book is given out early during a kids visit. Doctors do this because it gives them a window into whether reading is happening in the home,” said Steve Vogler, Medical Director at Reach Out and Read Colorado.
Reach Out and Read Colorado has helped train numerous doctors practicing in the medical field to use their authority and encourage family interaction with books at home. “For the last two years, we have seen the use of books now being promoted at all residency programs. It can be used as a tool to help them access the child’s development,” Vogler commented. Because the use of a book during the visit aids doctors, not only to evaluate the child’s overall mental health, it can also help them identify any developmental delays.
Sometimes these delays are seen early on in children who live in poverty. They come from families that are unable to afford many necessities, let alone quality books. “We often see a multi-generation poverty in families and lack of focus on reading,” Vogler added. “We want to break that cycle.”
And making a difference, they are. Being introduced to a book at their first well-child visit is instrumental in how their learning path will forge. Skills such as holding books, turning pages and connecting words to things are being absorbed. But it is the excitement he repeatedly sees from them when a book enters the room that validates his time with Reach Out and Read Colorado. “I’ve seen babies faces light up as they crawl to books- and most of the time, they like the books in the room more than toys.”
**Reach Out and Read Colorado is always looking for a way to help service clubs, youth groups, schools, places of worship, etc. to host a book drive. If you would like to help organize a book drive or donate gently used books, please contact them at [email protected] or 303-623-3800.