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Unity Hospital

Getting more kids ready to read

For more information, visit reachoutandread.org. If you would like to make a donation to the program at Allina Medical Clinic - Coon Rapids, contact Mercy & Unity Hospitals Foundation at
763-236-3961
or Give now.

More than one-third of American children lack the basic language skills they need to learn how to read. Less than half of U.S. parents read to their young children daily — an activity that helps build children’s thinking, communication and reading readiness skills. Allina Medical Clinic — Coon Rapids is doing its part to get more kids ready to read.

Doctors and staff members at the clinic hand out free books to children, ages 6 months to 5 years, during their well child exam visits. The program started in August 2012 and 3,200 books were distributed through the end of the year. Most were in English, but Hmong, Spanish and Russian families received books in their languages.

"All 12 of our pediatricians participate," said Peg Beuning, RN, manager of clinical services. "They select a book for the child’s age, then hand it to the child to see how he or she interacts with it. The kids love the books, and the parents appreciate it so much. Many times, you can tell it’s probably the only book they have at home."

The program is part of a national effort called Reach Out and Read. The nonprofit Reach Out and Read organization was founded in 1989 at Boston Medical Center. Participating groups raise funds to buy the books. At Allina Medical Clinic — Coon Rapids, book purchases are funded by a $24,000 gift from Charlie Kratsch, owner of Infinite Campus.

"We only used $7,000 or $8,000 during 2012, so we plan to run the program for at least another year," Beuning said. "Children who have received the books also look forward to their next visit to the doctor!"


Source: Healthy Communities magazine, spring 2013
Reviewed by: Peg Beuning, RN, manager of clinical services
First Published: 04/08/2013
Last Reviewed: 04/08/2013