I have been a pediatrician and a mother of four for over 28 years and have always appreciated the value of reading in the lives of my children and patients. Even if the research were not so convincing, my observations would support the importance of reading. The experience of sharing a book with a child in your lap or sitting next to you: heads bent together over beautiful illustrations, repeating favorite lines in the story along, anticipating what will happen in the story when you turn the page, creates intimacy and coziness vital to a child’s development. My adult children can all remember where the mouse is on every page of Goodnight Moon, they can recite the lines in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and they know what magic words Charlotte wove into her web to save Wilbur the pig. I have seen many children dress as characters from a book, imitating their speech mannerisms and picking up where the written story left off to create new adventures. A good book leaves some room for imagination: what a character’s voice sounds like, what is happening just off the page, what happens after the written story ends.
Parents today have an uphill battle combatting the allure of screen time, which provides an experience that seems visually stimulating but which is also isolating and passive for an infant, child or teen. Thanks to Reach Out and Read Colorado I can prescribe them a high-quality, brand-new book and show them that reading provides a much more active and interactive experience to share with their child. I am always amazed at the facial expressions of my patients when I offer them a book instead of a screen: their faces light up instantly, their eyes wide open, their eyebrows raised in curiosity. They look up into their parent’s face to share it or ask to read it together, which is one of my favorite moments of the visit! Because of Reach Out and Read Colorado, I can give my patients and their families the gift of sharing the adventures and intimate moments that books can bring.
~ Dr. Mary Zavadil, Reach Out and Read Colorado Board Member & Pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center
About Dr. Zavadil
Dr. Mary Zavadil joined Children’s Medical Center in 1990. Dr. Mary grew up in New Mexico. She received her undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University in California and her medical degree from the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Mary moved to Denver to complete her residency at the University of Colorado program at The Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Mary has also been the Medical Director for the Community Child Health Foundation based at CMC, which provides a wide variety of medical support services to low-income families since 2001. She also volunteers at Clinica Tepeyac in North Denver and welcomes the opportunity to speak Spanish with any patients.
Dr. Mary is married to Dr. Greg Gutierrez, a family and sports medicine physician at Denver Health and they have four children, Gabe, Joe, Elena and Paul, who keep them busy and happy. She has been in the same book club for 18 years, the same playgroup for 17 years, and loves to knit, do yoga and play the piano. Her family loves to travel, ski, and hike (when they can talk the teenagers into it) and spends lots of time with the extended Zavadil/Gutierrez clan around the country. Dr. Mary loves her partners, the staff, and the patients!! She loves children of all ages and can’t imagine a more wonderful job or a more amazing place to practice!