Celebrating One Year with Reach Out and Read!

Physicians at Covenant Clinic Pediatrics have been writing a new type of prescription for kids and parents: read aloud together for 15 minutes, at least once daily. It’s a simple prescription with a simple dosage, but it can make a world of difference in young children’s lives. And the best part? Parents don’t need to visit the pharmacy to fill this prescription; it comes with a free book.


Sara Hedeman, Dr. Daniel Wright and Darci Ritter (in one of Dr. Wright’s railroad-themed exam rooms) display a selection of books ready for young patients as part of the Reach Out and Read program at Covenant Clinic Pediatrics.

As part of routine pediatric check-ups, kids ages 6-months to 5 years receive a new book to take home as part of the Reach Out and Read program adopted by the clinic last summer, under the leadership of Dr. Daniel Wright. The clinic is part of a growing network of healthcare providers participating in the national program, which now includes 5,000 clinics and hospitals. This summer marks the one year anniversary of the program at Covenant Clinic Pediatrics. Over the course of the year providers gave away over 8,000 free books to patient families.

All providers at the clinic were trained in the Reach Out and Read model, which provides a roadmap to successful interactions with kids and parents that promotes early literacy and school readiness. Key to the success of the program is ensuring physicians and nurses speak with parents and caregivers about the importance of reading aloud with their children every day. Providers are additionally trained to offer age-appropriate tips and encouragement to families.

Covenant Clinic Pediatrics has fully embraced another element of the Reach Out to Read model, which includes developing a literacy rich environment in the clinic. When patients arrive for appointments this coming school year, they will find new entertainment in the waiting room. Local celebrities and community leaders, police officers, Gold-Star teachers, school administrators, physicians and many other individuals from the community took time to read a short story aloud for a video that will play in the waiting room. Kids arriving for their check-ups will be able to spend a few minutes reading along with the storyteller using books available in a new reading nook.

Cedar Valley Readers was excited to be a part of the launch of Reach Out and Read last summer, knowing that the program is a proven intervention that delivers results. Additional support for the program was provided by Cedar Valley’s Promise, Cedar Valley United Way and the R.J. McElroy Trust. Nationally, the Reach Out to Read program is supported by 15 independent, published research studies reflecting evidence that preschool-aged children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These foundational language skills are instrumental in starting children on a path of success when they enter school.

Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential. For more information about Reach Out and Read at Covenant Clinic Pediatrics, or if you would like to donate funds, please contact Darci Ritter at darci.ritter@mercyheath.com.

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