As Southwest Regional Coordinator for Reach Out and Read Colorado, I often discuss the opportunity for connection that reading a book with a child can create for providers, nurses, and parents. I had an emblematic experience with a young girl at Mercy Family Medicine in Durango during my annual site visit. As part of my assessment, I was checking out the kids’ corner in their waiting room—which included a bookshelf filled with gently used books, and a table and chairs scaled down to fit little people. The literacy-rich environment also included posters promoting reading on the walls along with local library information including storytime for preschoolers.
I sat down to assess the book selection and a little girl, about four-years-old, approached me with a Dr. Seuss book in her hand.
“Would you read this book to me?” she asked, with a sweet smile that brought back memories of my time as a children’s librarian.
“You bet,” I replied. “Shall we read this one or do you want to pick a different book?”
We settled in with Dr. Seuss, and I spent the next 15 minutes in absolute wonder. We entered Dr. Seuss’ delightfully silly world of wild imagination and, as preschoolers are likely to do if one takes the time to listen, the young girl told me all about her family and life. It was the most magical of encounters—and it unfolded in the waiting room of a doctors’ office. It was a powerful example of how reading books aloud to a child can foster connection wherever you are.