Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) today celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Reach Out and Read program. David Rosenberg, a member of CHOP’s Foundation Board of Overseers, and a major supporter of the program since 2003, and his wife, Margie, were recognized for their support at the event. Madeline Bell, President and CEO of CHOP presented a plaque to Margie, who attended the event on behalf of her family. Following today’s press conference, former Philadelphia Flyers center, Danny Brière, volunteered to read the children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to patients gathered in CHOP’s Colket Atrium.
“Reading books in our home was a daily habit and brought us countless opportunities of happiness, engagement and education with our children,” Margie said. “Recognizing the advantage and privilege they had growing up with books, my husband David and I are hoping in a small way to create this opportunity for the underserved community through Reach Out and Read. Every child is entitled to experience the love and joy of books and the educational and life benefits resulting from literacy.”
Founded in 1989 at Boston Medical Center, Reach Out and Read provides young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. In 1996, Trude Haecker, MD, brought the program to CHOP. It is now offered at 10 primary care practices across the CHOP Care Network. Over the past two decades, CHOP has distributed more than one million children’s books to patients and their families.
“I am proud of the impact this program has had on our patients and their families,” said Bell. “When parents are taught the importance of reading to their children, they help them develop the literacy, language, social and emotional skills they need to succeed.”
“It is important to incorporate literacy promotion into a child’s well visit,” Dr. Haecker said. “When we introduce books in the exam room, we signify just how impactful reading aloud is to a child’s overall well-being.”
Primary care pediatricians and nurse practitioners at each of CHOP’s 10 participating primary care centers give new books to children ages 6 months to 5 years as part of their well visits, and offer tips and encouragement to parents. Children of all ages are also encouraged to take a gently-used book home with them from the waiting room. This year alone, CHOP’s Reach Out and Read program will distribute 38,000 brand new books and at least 100,000 gently-used books.
The Reach Out and Read program depends on the generous support of donors and members of the community. The program relies on volunteers to read aloud to children in the waiting rooms of participating primary care practices.