[Holiday Feel-Good] This is a great program:
The South Main Clinic in Salt Lake City (affiliated with the University of Utah health care system) takes part in a national not-for-profit children's literacy program, Reach Out and Read. ROR focuses on children ages 6 months to 5 years old, living at or near poverty level. Family practice doctors and pediatricians distribute carefully selected new, developmentally and culturally appropriate books, including bilingual books available in 12 languages. Each child who participates in Reach Out and Read starts kindergarten with a home library of up to 10 books and a parent who has heard at every well-child visit about the importance of books and reading with their kids.
According to the ROR Web site, "studies show that parents who get books and literacy counseling from their doctors and nurses are more likely to read to their young children, read to them more often, and provide more books in the home. Low-income children exposed to Reach Out and Read show improved language development, which is the single strongest predictor of school success. Children score four to eight points higher on vocabulary tests, giving 2-year-olds a six-month head start developmentally."
Using the existing health care system to deliver literacy advice and books to families, ROR doctors gave nearly 38,000 new books to almost 25,000 Utah infants, toddlers and preschoolers at 23 sites across the state last year.
The South Main Clinic has been participating in this program for several years. I wrote a story about the South Main program a long time ago for another newspaper. I loved the program then; I love it now. And I'm glad I got a news release today showing ROR is still alive and well. If you are wracking your brain for an inexpensive holiday charity idea that will make a big difference this season, try this:
Buy a new book, appropriate for children ages 6 months through 5 years. Bilingual books are encouraged. Board books are also recommended--they're practically indestructible. ROR does not accept books with politically and socially sensitive themes, such as divorce, death, abuse, sexuality (you get the drift). Any books of that nature will be discarded.
Take the book, unwrapped, to:
The South Main Clinic (weekdays, regular business hours)
3690 S Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
The rest of this assignment is easy. Sit back and feel good about building society's literacy power. (Holly Mullen)