Reading Rx: Literacy Starts at the Pediatrician’s Office

We’ve always known there is a connection between mind and body. The evidence that supports this connection gets stronger every day, especially when it comes to reading.

Dr. Jay Berkelhamer, a pediatrician who practiced on the South Side of Chicago, saw this on a daily basis with his patients. The kids who were read to were healthier, happier, and more confident than the kids who lacked higher levels of interaction. This means kids who spend more time in front of the TV than in front of a book with their mom, dad, sibling, or caregiver.

Dr. Berkelhamer is on the national board of Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit that urges the medical field to promote and enable early literacy. The group focuses on communicating to parents that reading is part of healthy development, just like staying safe on a bike, washing your hands, and eating healthy foods. This message is particularly important to impart in a medical setting to families who are at or below poverty levels.

“Healthcare and education are not separate,” Dr. Berkelhamer tells us. “Think of Reach Out and Read and the healthcare system as being part of the education system. Doctors, nurse practitioners, family practitioners need to partner with the education community to make sure every child gets off to the right start.”

Then go back and check out Episode 11 to hear a compelling story from a parent’s point of view.