In this Special Edition Blog Feature, we share perspectives from Reach Out and Read Colorado community members who work in/with our partner clinics prescribing reading to Colorado children and their families.
PERSPECTIVE: SITE COORDINATOR
Pat McHone, Lincoln County Public Health @ Hugo, Colorado
I enjoy when kids come into our office and they see all of the books, and the first thing they do is head straight for them. Their eyes light up when you ask them about the book they choose and offer to look at it with them. Sometimes they just want to be left alone with their imagination. When they are told they can take the book home they hold on tight like it is the best present ever.
In my work, it makes me smile to see a child who is given a book after getting vaccinated and mom or dad says, “I remember that story, it was one of my favorites.” I always ask if parents are reading to their children every day and when they say yes, I praise them. I explain that when their kids start school it will be much easier. They will know so many more words than the kids who were not read with, and they will better understand what is being said to them.
I feel so happy knowing that someday visiting our clinic and receiving a book will be a good memory. When they have children of their own they may still have the same Reach Out and Read Colorado book that was prescribed to them years earlier. They will share it with their own kids and see them use their imagination in the same way that they did. Books can bring back so many wonderful memories of our childhood. Books are just a magical part of our life.
P.S. My favorite books were by S.E. Hinton.
Did you know: More families in rural Colorado (9.8%) live below the Federal Poverty Line than urban counties statewide (8.9%). Reach Out and Read Colorado is dedicated to rural equity, currently working in 165 program sites in rural communities that serve more than 34,500 children annually.
Meredith Hintze, Reach Out and Read Colorado Executive Director
What strikes me every time I visit clinic waiting rooms and exam rooms is that no matter the size or scale of the practice or the geographic location, urban or rural, for young children and families health care providers truly offer the sense of a “home base” in those early years. Whether it’s a harried new parent of a brand new baby or a kiddo having their first appointment with vaccines, you can feel the sense of relief as families enter the waiting room knowing that they are in a place where they and their children are cared for and supported.
Across the state, thousands of incredible site coordinators, volunteers and health care providers work together every day to support children and families and help them to thrive. From the moment a family enters a clinic and are greeted by a waiting room filled with books, to the time they have to chat one-on-one with their provider about reading and developmental milestones to a time later that evening at home with the child’s new book, Reach Out and Read Colorado is seamlessly woven into the flow of visits to support positive parent-child relationships and brain development.
The thing I enjoy most about working for Reach Out and Read Colorado is the opportunity to help families in our community. From our office team to our Board, to our donors and supporters, to volunteers and health care providers all around the state—We ALL support children and families by prescribing them new books to explore together – often the only ones in their home. We help by providing advice from doctors on the importance of reading starting in infancy to brain development. And we help by encouraging literacy throughout the early years as a way to create important family bonds.
Stephanie Ribbens, Volunteer at Denver Health Center @ Denver, Colorado
Every time I walk into the Denver Health Center for the Reach Out and Read program it’s with a bit of apprehension and nerves. I don’t know why, because my experiences have always been so rewarding. Whether it’s knowing that a parent is comfortable enough to leave their child with me for a time…or sit with me to learn alongside. A lapful of kids hanging on for me to flip the page to find out what happens to the little fish who stole the big fishes tiny hat!?! Or today – when there weren’t any kids. I sat down in the little chair, at the little table with my pile of books and just waited. I read the books to myself because let’s face it, those stories are fun and endure no matter your age! I noticed an older gentleman with an inquisitive smile and I offered him a book, he declined. I kept reading and looked up again to that smile. I offered him a little chair at the little table…he accepted. I spent the next 20 minutes reading books with him. His name was Hussein, an Iraqi refugee, he offered me the Arabic translation of the words he knew and thanked me greatly for my time. Teacher, he called me. Student, I answered…
Thank you. Not only for what this program offers a roomful of ‘strangers’ but what it offers me – an opportunity, confidence, gratitude.
Did you know: Reach Out and Read Colorado encourages companies to partner with us to support designated sites through funding, book donations, and volunteer time. Stephanie works at COPIC Insurance Company and Reach Out and Read Colorado is just one of the organizations the company supports through their Community Action Team, encouraging employees to become invested in their local community by dedicating time for employees to pursue volunteer opportunities.
PERSPECTIVE: COLORADO KIDDO
Milly Rose Blackman, 6 years old, Visits Pediatrics West, Shen Nagel, MD @ Wheat Ridge, Colorado
What book is the best book your doctor gave you? And, why?
I am Invited to a Party by Mo Willems. I like it because it’s silly.
What do you like best about reading?
Reading teaches me lots of things.
Why is reading important?
So you get smarter.
Did you know: According to the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, storytelling offers an opportunity to support children’s social-emotional development by building self-esteem and giving legitimacy to cultural practices and traditions.
PERSPECTIVE: HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
Emelin Martinez, FNP-BC, Health Care Provider at Valley-Wide Health Systems @ Alamosa, Colorado
I prescribe books because I love seeing the delight on a child’s face when they accept the book and they begin to turn the pages. For a moment the child forgets they are there for a medical visit and I can speak with parents about how important reading is for brain development. It is also an opportunity to assess the developmental stage of the child and the interaction between the parent and child.
PERSPECTIVE: BOARD CHAIR & PEDIATRICIAN
Simon Hambidge, MD, PhD, Chief Ambulatory Officer at Denver Health and the Chief Executive Officer of Denver Community Health Services (DCHS)
I prescribe books because early co-reading is powerful. Some of the parents in my practice don’t know the pleasures of reading with young children because they were never read to as children themselves and for many of my youngest patients, the Reach Out and Read Colorado book they receive is their first book!
Did you know: Health care providers have unprecedented access to children and their parents. Not only do they have a platform for focused conversations about growth and development, but they interact with children and their caregivers repeatedly, more so than any other resource before school starts. The health care provider and clinic staff assume the role of a trusted source of support and information for the family.