Reach Out and Read for CHOP
When my 5-month-old daughter, Kaylynn, received open-heart surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I witnessed first hand the amazing staff, patients, and parents that make it all come together. My first instinct was to give back to the wonderful place that helped my daughter who was born with Down syndrome and heart defects. I also deeply believe in the power of literacy and want both my daughters to love books and understand the wonder of the written word.
When I found CHOP’s Reach Out and Read program, I was very impressed with its effectiveness and uniqueness. The intervention program enhances child development by having a doctor/nurse practitioner give a brand new book to every patient age 6 months to 5-years-old and also teach parents the importance of reading aloud to their children and encouraging their children to read themselves. This helps the parents know what to expect of their children and their language development.
The program truly surrounds patients with books by having used books in the waiting room and in the exam room. These books are also free for any patient or family member to take home and add to their own personal library. They have volunteers in the waiting room entertaining the children and demonstrating to the parents the methods of reading aloud. Reach Out and Read purchases books focusing on their diversity and quality and avoids promoting TV characters by straying away from Disney books, etc. This is my favorite aspect because in today’s screen centered world, the art of reading can often get overlooked.
With many underserved kids in the area, this program really is filling a need and exposes children to books sooner, giving them a head start on the journey to literacy. They become captivated by sizes and textures, curious about the words and stimulated by the colors at an early age. I know that Kaylynn really likes the board books because of its thickness and they are easier for her to grasp.
After researching, I decided to help by starting my own book drive through Usborne Books & More. Knowing that this year, the pediatricians, residents and nurse practitioners will need to give at least 38,000 new books to children across their different sites, I set my spirits and goals high. Over the course of the two-day fundraiser, I raised $750 for the cause and was able to buy 134 books! I was overjoyed that others were also passionate about the cause and were invested in the literacy of our youth. Usborne also matches half of the donated amount so your dollar goes that much further.
Any amount received is a step in the right direction and will go directly to the purchase of books for Reach Out and Read. The difference that CHOP is making in these children’s lives goes above and beyond treating them for what they came in for. It enriches their lives and ensures personal development.