Front row, left to right: Adrianna Loppy, Pam Madison, Karen Burkett, Dr. Ashok Jain, Dr. Sharon Burke, Daniel Drake, Kristin Bedford; Back row, left to right: Karen Gladden, Teeanna Lunsford, Allen Phillips Bell
BURGAW – Pender County Library has been in a partnership with Reach Out and Read for the past several months. The library system’s Hampstead branch sends literacy resources and the library’s monthly activities and events calendar to Reach Out and Read partner sites. In addition, Pender County Library has provided donated children’s books to the Reach Out and Read partner site, KidzCare Pediatrics in Hampstead.
“The sites absolutely love having the gently loved books to share with older siblings,” says Gail Phillips, program manager for Reach Out and Read.
Karen Burkett, manager at the Hampstead branch of Pender County Library, was thrilled to discover that Reach Out and Read had a partner site in Hampstead. She had previously attended a library conference where a Reach Out and Read national board member, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, spoke about the critical importance of parents reading aloud to children from birth. Dr. Navsaria is a pediatrician working in the public interest blending the roles of physician, occasional children’s librarian, educator, public health professional, and child health advocate. When Burkett, a member of Coastal Pender Rotary Club, was asked by fellow Coastal Pender Rotarian Kristin Bedford, if there was anything Coastal Pender Rotary Club could do to support early childhood literacy, her first thought was Reach Out and Read. Coastal Pender Rotary Club voted quickly and unanimously to provide $2,000 immediately to help fund books for the children. A matching challenge grant that Reach Out and Read has received brings a total of $4,000.
Reach Out and Read helps integrate reading into pediatric practices, advise families about the importance of reading with their children, and share books that serve as a catalyst for a healthy childhood. At participating locations, doctors and nurses encourage parents to read aloud to their young children, offer age-appropriate reading tips, and prescribe new, culturally, and developmentally appropriate books at every checkup from birth through five years of age. Reach Out and Read sites also help connect families with community resources like the library, Smart Start, and other literacy initiatives, to further promote reading.
Across Pender County, Reach Out and Read partners with three clinics—KidzCare Pediatrics Hampstead, Black River Family Practice Burgaw, and Black River Health Center Atkinson—to prescribe books and reading to more than 1,330 children and families every year. Smart Start of Pender County provides ongoing funding and administration support for the Black River ROR locations. Nationally, more than 6,100 medical locations integrate Reach Out and Read into their standard of care for young children; in North Carolina, 347 locations participate, giving nearly 500,000 books each year.
Allen Phillips-Bell, director of Pender County Library, stated that “by building on and expanding outreach programs and partnerships throughout the county, we can help transform lives and build literacy development in our youngest residents.”
About the Reach Out and Read Intervention:
Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based intervention integrated into medical clinics throughout North Carolina designed to foster intentional skill-building in parents, resilience in families, and positive bonding between children and caregivers. Through Reach Out and Read, doctors prescribe reading aloud every day and provide families with age-appropriate reading strategies. Each child is given a new, developmentally-appropriate book to take home, building a collection of 10–15 new books in the home before that child enters kindergarten.
The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention.
Pediatric healthcare providers are trained in the three-part Reach Out and Read model to promote healthy brain development in young children:
- The Conversation: During well-child visits, the doctor prescribes reading by modeling read-aloud strategies while teaching and training the parent about how to share books and why it is important. Parents are engaged in the conversation as the provider offers anticipatory guidance and emphasizes how reading brings families together.
- The Book: Each child is given a new, culturally, and developmentally appropriate book to take home, building a collection of 10-15 new books in the home before the child goes to kindergarten.
- Literacy-Rich Environment and Resources: Clinic environments support literacy-rich messaging and resources to families, supporting providers in community-health resources, and supporting parents in daily literacy activities with their children.
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