The role of reading in development

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By Cassandra West

A clinic that dispenses books? That's right. "The other thing we really push here is early child literacy," says Dr. Stephanie Weller of the Children's Clinic, which has several programs that promote "kids learning to read and enjoy reading at an early age."

Experts on early childhood agree that reading is fundamental to success in many aspects of life. They're not necessarily advocating that your child can read a book by age 3 or 4, but it is important for parents to read to their children and to make books available to them. 

"The more words a baby hears, the better their verbal skills are going to be," Weller says.

The clinic participates in a program called Reach Out and Read, run by a Boston-based nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

So, every patient who visits the clinic leaves with a book, says Denise Gonzalez, behavioral health director. "That's our policy."

The clinic gives out more than 10,000 books a year, according to its communications director Katie O'Brien. That's part of providing "holistic care with all of the extra touches," she adds.

For lots of families that visit, the first book they had came from the clinic, Gonzalez says. "We started their library at home. When we hear that, we know that what we're doing is having an impact."

SAY Connects is sponsored by the Good Heart Work Smart Foundation in partnership with Success for All Youth (SAY).

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