Nonprofit providing free books at doctors appointments and it’s having a big impact

Reading to your kids at an early age could help them understand words and phrases sooner. A nonprofit in the Carolinas is providing free books.
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 11:43 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Reading to your kids at an early age could help them understand words and phrases sooner. A nonprofit in the Carolinas, called Reach out and Read, is providing free books at doctors appointments and they say it’s having a big impact.

Betsy Flowers reads to her daughter Mary Margaret everyday. She believes it’s the reason her daughter connects names with animal sounds.

“When she wakes up in the morning it’s the first thing she wants to do,” mother Betsy Flowers said.

But like many moms,  she didn’t realize how important reading could be.

“I just remember being very overwhelmed as a first-time mother,” Flowers said. “You get so much information about things you should be doing. There are a lot of expectations for certain developmental milestones.”

Prisma Health pediatrician and Reach out and Read Dr. Blakely Amati says books can have great powers from a young age.

“We have known for a long time that reading out loud really helps expose children to words,” Dr. Amati said. “We say, to talk, read and sing to them all the time.”

It’s why the non-profit Reach Out and Read started providing free books for children at each wellness visit

“They started this program as a way to promote early literacy,” Amati said. “Most of a child’s brain development, about 80%, happens in a child’s first three years of life.”

The nonprofit wanted to know if their goals were  working. It turns out yes. Reach out and Read gathered responses from more than 100,000 caregivers in the Carolinas over a six-year period.

“They found families who had previously been exposed to the program were 27% more likely to read with their child every day,” Dr. Amati said.

And by reading to your kids your child is more likely to understand words and phrases at a young age.

“We have a dog and she will point to him and say, wolf, wolf,” Flowers said. “So it’s awesome.”

Reading to your kids can go beyond education. The one-on-one time with your child can impact their behavior.

“Those sorts of interactions can be really protective for that child forever,” Dr. Amati said. “It really buffers against other adverse childhood experiences. It helps them develop emotionally, behaviorally and cognitively.”

This program also provides books in different languages. Flowers says it’s a simple daily task that can impact your child for a lifetime.

“It makes me feel really proud that I am actually doing something to contribute to her growth,” Flowers said.