Pediatricians prescribe books during check-ups

Pediatricians give immunizations, checkups and, in some offices, books. Most children see a pediatrician at some point, and that's why one program coordinates efforts there to enhance literacy.The national program Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based literacy outreach initiative. It's been around for 15 years in Alabama, and efforts continue to grow. The idea is simple: build children's cognitive and language development before they start school.Dr. DeeAnne Jackson at the UAB Primary Care Center says handing over books to parents and their children during visits has several benefits: reading enhances cognitive and language development and it also builds social bonds between parent and child."It's preventive medicine for problems in school," Dr. Jackson says.Polly McClure, coordinator for Alabama's Reach Out and Read, says participating centers give out free books to children age six months to five years old each visit. McClure says the program's main goal,though, is to encourage reading in every part of the children's lives."Once they catch what I call the 'reading fever,' then they start to understand the other resources in their community where they can access literacy and reading, like their local public library," McClure says.For more information on local efforts, visit