Studies indicate that children who learn to read early in life tend to develop longer attention spans, greater critical thinking skills, healthier social interactions, and even land higher paying jobs later in life.
That's why pediatric doctors and nurses at seven Nemours-run medical facilities throughout the state are increasingly prescribing books to their patients, according to the health system's spokesman Chris Manning.
"Starting this year, all of the Nemours Pediatrics facilities are participating in Reach Out And Read, a program that trains doctors and nurses to advise parents about the importance of reading aloud," Manning said. "Through Reach Out and Read, each child starts Kindergarten with a home library of up to 10 new, carefully chosen books and a parent who has heard about the importance of reading."
To help promote the program, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) spent about an hour on Sept. 27 reading to children at Milford's Nemours Pediatrics office, which has been participating in the Reach Out and Read program since 2005.
Children receive a book during each of the ten wellness physical appointment they receive between the ages of six months and 5 years. Program manager Aida Robles said each of the three physicians at the office in the Teal Creek Plaza distribute about 1,000 books a year.
"Books provide a gateway to the imagination and open the door to enormous possibilities for every child," Coons said after his visit. "Programs like Reach Out and Read promote reading readiness in our youngest kids and ensure that they have books of their own."
After reading "Lola Goes to the Library," and "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed," the senator handed out "How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms," "If You Give a Pig a Pancake," and "All By Myself" to ten children between the ages of 1 and 10.
"I think it's a great program because it makes the kids less worried about coming to the doctor's office when they know they're going to get a book," said Greenwood resident Beth Baker, a clinical data abstractor for Nemours, whose son and daughter attended Coons' reading session. "The older kids actually start to look forward to the visits."
Kiana Carter, whose son was making his first visit to the Milford office on Thursday, also said she likes the idea of children getting books from their doctor.
"It's neat," she said. "I think it will give them a taste for reading and want to do it more as they get older."