Department of Family Medicine Promotes Early Literacy with Book Giveaway Program

July 9, 2024 by

Reach out and Read logo.UVA’s Department of Family Medicine partners with Reach Out and Read, a national organization, to make well child visits more fun and meaningful for children and their families. The Reach Out and Read program, a national literacy initiative, integrates book distribution into routine well child visits. Starting at the 2-month checkup and continuing through age five, clinicians at our practices provide children a new book at each appointment, as well as guidance on how parents can use books with their child. This program, endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, distributes over 6.5 million books annually.

Research consistently demonstrates that Reach Out and Read’s approach yields positive outcomes. By providing developmentally appropriate books and encouraging family reading routines, the program effectively boosts early literacy skills. This, in turn, prepares children for academic success and helps bridge the literacy gap for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A unique aspect of UVA’s Family Medicine Reach Out and Read Program is that our clinicians provide books and literacy education to refugee patients in our International Family Medicine Clinic. Many of these families do not speak English, and as recently arrived refugees, many have no books in their home. UVA Family Medicine provides books in a number of languages, including Dari, Pashto, Nepalese, Arabic and Swahili, in addition to English and Spanish language books. We provide English language books to children even if we do not have a book in their language – parents can still tell stories to the child based on the pictures in the book and can engage the child in talking about the pictures – all activities that have been shown to promote improved relationships between the parent and child and improved literacy.

Families participating in the program often express gratitude for the positive impact it has on their children’s lives. The excitement of receiving a new book at each doctor’s visit motivates children to read and helps create a home environment where reading is a valued and enjoyable activity. Our staff and clinicians also find that giving books to children and their families brings joy to their daily routine.

For more information about Reach Out and Read and to learn how you can support this impactful program, visit the Reach Out and Read website. Together, we can ensure that every child has the opportunity to develop essential literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading.

Filed Under: Community