“While only 69% of preschool-aged children are actually enrolled in school, 92% visit their doctors at least once a year for a checkup…”
Harlem families enjoyed a Read and Romp! at Harlem Hospital Center – a children’s book party with crafts, readings and giveaways to inspire families to read aloud every day for healthy brain development.
As the city and state partner to expand early childhood education, doctors at Harlem Hospital Center are doing their part to help young children learn by giving children free books at every checkup through the Reach Out and Read of Greater New York early literacy program. Their mission is to prepare children for school by encouraging families to read with their children everyday – especially during the most critical years of brain development, 0-5 years of age.
“A lot of my parents speak English as a second language, and sometimes they’re learning to read, too,” said Dr. Aubey, a pediatrician and the Reach Out and Read Champion at Harlem Hospital Center. “They love this kind of event, and they get a lot out of it.” Last year alone, physicians at Harlem Hospital distributed 6,200 books to patients, with the advice that “reading is doctor-recommended.” The hospital is one of 200 Reach Out and Read locations in New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.
Children at the Read and Romp! enjoyed picture book readings by volunteers from Momentum Worldwide, who also helped children make crafts related to the books. The volunteers also distributed books collected through a company-wide book drive, ensuring that each child could keep up the reading at home. Parents received information on how to make reading time part of their family routine.
“While only 69% of preschool-aged children are actually enrolled in school, 92% visit their doctors at least once a year for a checkup,” said Traci Lester, Reach Out and Read of Greater New York’s Executive Director. “Pediatricians have tremendous access to parents of young children. By working with them, we can make sure families get the guidance and tools to support healthy language development and early literacy at home.”
Mayor de Blasio is making expansion of preK a priority for his administration. But many say that preschool is already too late to reach at-risk children. A recent study from Stanford University researcher Anne Fernald found developmental gaps in children from low-income households as young as 18 months old, delays that were directly related to the number of words the children heard at home. Children who heard more words at home were able to understand words more quickly and had larger vocabularies.
“We hope all the parents visiting Harlem Hospital today will go home and read to their children,” said Ms. Lester. “It’s one of the easiest and best ways to prepare their children for school.”
For more information, visit: reachoutandreadnyc.org.