About the Program
Reading to a child regularly before age six can positively contribute to familial health, brain growth, and success into adulthood and completion of school. Reach Out and Read is working to increase those impacts. By engaging healthcare providers to model reading to a child and sending families home with new books, parents are two times more likely to continue to read at home with their child.
For over a decade, Madison Public Library has been involved with Reach Out and Read’s work. Literacy is a primary value of Madison Public Library, and Reach Out and Read shares that value. By providing a book to a family along with guidance about how to effectively read with their child, more children have access to literacy experiences and can discover the joy of reading. By the end of the program, children have the beginning of a home library comprised of their own ten books, as well as the skills to begin school successfully.
Twelve years ago, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria stopped into Goodman South Madison Library to introduce himself and the Reach Out and Read Program. From that day on, Madison Public Library’s Youth Services department has been connected to Reach Out and Read efforts in the Madison area. Over the years, the role of Madison Public Library’s connection has changed to include creating and managing libraries for inpatients, training clinic staff, and continuing to read to inpatient children at hospitals in Madison.
The impact of Reach Out and Read speaks for itself. Reach Out and Read is a clinic-based program, meeting with pediatricians and children in scheduled appointments. Because of the compelling success of Reach Out and Read, The American Family Children’s Hospital began a program of reading with children in inpatient circumstances as well.
Success & Impact
Ruth Sias, Youth Services Librarian at Madison Public Library and a Reach Out and Read volunteer since its inception, shared some success stories about her experiences in the program in Children’s Hospital. One notable story was about her relationship with her “buddy” Oliver:
“When I first got to Oliver’s room, I thought he was asleep. He had his blankie over his head. I headed to the next patient on my list, and one of the PICU staff called me back. Oliver was awake but only just. His nurse asked me to hang around while he woke up all the way because ‘Oliver loves you so much’. She got him situated, and we shared a story together. Oliver likes to hold his own book while I read to him because he likes to turn the pages. On this day, he started making up games with the pages of his book. He would turn the pages really fast or open-and-close the book to see how I responded. The book was a lift-the-flap book with animals under the flaps. He lifted the flap and revealed a picture of a cow in his book, so I made the ‘moo’ sound. Oliver patted the picture of the cow, and I made the ‘moo’ sound again. He patted the picture quickly, and I ‘moo’ed in time with his patting. He stopped patting, I stopped ‘moo’ing. He looked at me with the most delightful expression of accomplishment on his face. We must have played that game for about 10 minutes. I will not forget this time with Oliver.”
Oliver, too, will not forget this interaction for a long time. From his time spent with Ruth and other Reach Out and Read volunteers, a love of books was established.