Destrehan and Metairie Clinics Open Literacy Program for Pediatric Patients
NEW ORLEANS - Today, Thursday, March 18, from 12pm - 1pm, at 4901 Veterans Blvd in Metairie, Ochsner for Children will celebrate the expansion of its Reach Out and Read program to its Metairie and Destrehan clinics with WWL-TV Anchor, Sally-Ann Roberts, serving as the guest reader. Reach Out and Read, a pediatrician-led childhood literacy program launched at Ochsner in 2009, hopes to distribute over 18,000 books to patients this year.
Infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers at Ochsner for Children in Metairie and Destrehan will now receive a free book at each well check visit and their parents will be encouraged to read aloud to them daily. Literacy is one of the best predictors of overall cognitive development and behavioral health and it can even identify communication delays in young children. The books distributed through the Reach Out and Read program are developmentally and culturally appropriate and range from board books to more complex picture books.
Reach Out and Read will help physicians better diagnose communication disorders by reviewing with parents their observations of a child's ability to remember stories, point to characters in the books, and eventually develop language and reading skills. "The expansion of this program allows us to help improve the cognitive and behavioral development of our patients through the simple act of reading," says Dr. Samira Brown, Ochsner Pediatrician. "If a parent will spend time reading with their child every day, the parent-child bond will strengthen and enhance the child's development," she adds.
In addition, Reach Out and Read increases dialogue between parents and physicians about their child's development. "A child's interest in reading must start with the parent," explains Dr. Brown. Reading to a child and encouraging literacy sparks imagination and provides children with a lasting foundation for learning.
Reach Out and Read is a national non-profit organization based in Boston that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. Nationally, this year physicians will give out five million new books to three million families in the U.S through Reach Out and Read (www.reachoutandread.org.)