Why are Colorado doctors prescribing books?

AURORA - One book, two book, red book, blue book.

If we told you that baby Samuel's trip to the doctor today, would help him succeed in a number of ways, would you, could you believe it?

"it's a research based program, we know it works," said Megan Wilson, Executive Director of Reach out and Read Colorado, "Preschoolers have a six month developmental edge in language skills. Doctors and primary care providers are not going to give a program if it doesn't have research behind it that it works."

Dr. Alfie Meister is a pediatrician in Aurora. She gives every family she sees a prescription - not for a cough or a cold – but for books.

Dr. Meister has been taking care of the Guzman family since they were all babies. Every time they visit, they get a new book through the non-profit program.

"We have a very limited appointment, we have 20 minutes. When I take two minutes of that 20 minutes to say, 'This is the most important thing you can do for your child. It's as important as getting their immunizations , it's as important as good nutrition, it's as important as exercise,' that sends a strong message," Dr. Meister said.

Of course she'll check baby Samuel's eyes and ears, but she'll also make sure there's new words that he hears.

As the 15-month-old boy sits on the exam table, Dr. Meister is reading him words from his new book as his mom and three siblings help.

"Kids love their parents more than anything, so sharing that love of books with their children translates to a love of books. And if you love to read you're going to be better at it, and you're going to be better at school," Dr. Meister said.

More than 230 clinics throughout Colorado participate in Reach out and Read Colorado, spanning across 53 of the Centennial State's 64 counties.

"In 2014, we will be sending home over 165,000 brand new books to over 90,000 children statewide," said Executive Director Megan Wilson, "We have books in 13 languages that we send home with families."

New books, used books, any kind of book.

Words on the pages can take children places they've never imagined. Especially for families who don't have a lot of resources to otherwise buy books.

Books can take young minds places on paper, but also real places like college. And Beyond.

"When I ask families that have been here, 'Are you reading to your kids?' They say, 'Oh yes, we've been reading this book, and this book ,' And they're all books that they've gotten here," Dr. Meister said.

Reach out and Read Colorado is always accepting donations of new and gently used books families can take home.

They have volunteer readers that spend time in doctor's waiting rooms, modeling to parents how easy and fun it is to read to their children.

Reach out and Read is a nationwide program. For more information on Colorado's organization and participating clinics, visit www.reachoutandreadco.org .

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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