LIHUE — Kauai Medical Clinic pediatricians recently helped bring the nationwide program, “Reach Out and Read,” to the Garden Isle to remedy below-average reading rates of keiki entering kindergarten.
As part of the program, pediatricians provide free books at a child’s well-child visit starting at six months to five years of age. During these exams, doctors also discuss with parents the importance of reading, demonstrate how to read with keiki at different ages, and give families a new book to take home and read together.
“Across Kauai, about one-third of children reach kindergarten without the skills necessary to learn in the classroom,” said Dr. Carl Yu, a pediatrician at Kauai Medical Clinic.
“However, in some areas of the island, half of children have below-grade-level reading skills when they enter school,” he continued. “This is important because students who are behind in kindergarten are much more likely to drop out of school later in life.”
Research shows that parents are more likely to read to their children, and families are more likely to enjoy reading together, when they have contact with a Reach Out and Read program.
“In these first six years of life, the years before school, it is estimated that about 95 percent of a child’s brain is formed,” Yu said. “Therefore, by encouraging healthy, language-rich interactions, we help foster brain development.”
Reach Out and Read was created in 1989 by a group of pediatricians and early childhood educators in Boston. Twenty years later, the program had been adopted by all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Reach Out and Read is open to families who bring their keiki to Kauai Medical Clinic for care — no additional steps or cost are required.
To schedule an appointment, call 245-1554.