By Stephanie Breitbart
Sutter Medical Foundation pediatricians in Yolo County are committed to helping the county’s youngest children succeed in school by giving new, developmentally appropriate books to pre-kindergarten-age children during their regular pediatric checkups through the Reach Out and Read Program.
Reach Out and Read is a national nonprofit organization that partners with doctors to encourage families to read together. Since starting the program last summer, Sutter pediatricians have used the Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based, three-part model in their regular pediatric checkups. In addition to giving a new book to patients 6 months through 5 years of age, pediatricians talk to the parents about the importance of reading aloud and reading to their children more often.
Sutter Medical Foundation pediatrician Sarah Markley, M.D., helped initiate the program in Davis after seeing great results in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I was exposed to the program in my residency program at Stanford,” Markley said. “Because of the positive response there from both patient families and physicians, I was eager to implement the program here in Davis when I joined.”
Markley, together with Leila Kazemi-Carlton, R.N., project coordinator and nurse with Sutter Medical Foundation, worked hard to find funding and become an approved Reach Out and Read program site. As part of the program, Markley said all the providers underwent standard training and orientated all the pediatric offices to promote literacy to the children during each visit.
“There are approximately nine books that each child will receive over their pre-kindergarten care at our office,” Markley said. “The program helps us to emphasize the importance of verbal development and literacy.”
Experts say the first five years of life offer a critical window for learning, with rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time. Children who grow up without sufficient exposures to language arrive at school without basic literacy skills, and often struggle with reading in early grades.
Markley said the program has received funding from First 5 Yolo and the Sutter Medical Group. The Stephens Branch Library in Davis also has donated used books for the pediatric waiting and exam rooms to help promote a literacy-rich environment.