“We don’t expect them to read at such a young age, but to become comfortable with books,” said pediatrician Dr. Therese Linnon, D.O.
The program is geared to children from six months old through five years. Every time the child comes in for a wellness visit, they receive a book to take home.
“Akron Children's Hospital’s pediatric locations (of which there are now 18) gives out 40,000 books each year,” Linnon said.
She said the books come from donations and she said their number one backer is Kohl’s Department Stores that helps out through its Kohls Cares for Kids program.
Besides offering the free books, the pediatric center also offers advice for the parents on getting their children interested in reading at an early age.
“The program builds on the unique and special relationship between doctors and the parents of young children and reinforces the parents' role as the child’s first -- and most important -- teacher,” said senior public relations specialist Leslee Dennis.
To help celebrate the start of the program in Boardman, Linnon welcomed two special guests, State Rep. Ron Gerberrry (D-59th) and children’s librarian Starr Jones from the main branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. Both held sessions where they read books to those who attended the event.
“We love to partner with groups that promote literacy,” Jones said.
While the children got to listen to the stories from Jones and Gerberry, they were treated to pizza, cookies and a beverage. At the end, they each received an age-appropriate book to start them on their journey to literacy.
State Rep. Ron Gerberry, (D-59th) reads to five-and-a-half-year-old Jada Jones and her mother Michelle Jones of the West Side during the kickoff of Reach Out and Read at the Boardman campus of Akron Children's Hospital on Nov. 30.