Peds In Brevard Committed To ‘Reach Out and Read’

By  //  June 27, 2013

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ABOVE VIDEO: This video from ReachOutand Read shows clips from founding pediatricians, pediatric experts, CEO Earl Martin Phalen, and some of the children and families that Reach Out and Read serves.

BREVARD COUNTY–More than one-third of American children entering kindergarten do not have the basic language skills they need to learn to readEarly literacy skills include recognizing letters of the alphabet, understanding that sentences move from left to right, and having the ability to understand and tell stories.

Studies show that 88% of first graders who are considered below “grade level” in reading will continue to read below grade level for years to come.  Reading difficulty can contribute to school failure, increasing the chance of absenteeism, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy – all of which perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.

The answer to this problem is to “immunize” children against illiteracy in the critical years before they enter school, when interventions can have the most dramatic impact.

Reach Out and Read
For the past eight years Pediatrics in Brevard has helped to “jump start” children’s language skills with the Reach Out and Read program. Above, Nurse Practitioner Andrea Parker works with an engrossed pupil.

Initiatives such as Reach Out and Read, a national program promoting early literacy and school readiness works from a research-tested, evidence-based model which has been proven to help children develop the language skills they need to learn to read and succeed in school.

For the ninth year in a row, Pediatrics in Brevard will support Brevard County children by hosting the Reach Out and Read program for our pediatric patients.

The national Reach Out and Read program serves more than four million families annually, with the primary focus being to prepare America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books.

The program, founded in 1989 at the pediatric clinic at Boston City Hospital also asks participating pediatricians to educate parents on the importance of early literacy, while also encouraging families to read together.

Like our pediatricians at Pediatrics in Brevard, pediatricians across the United States who participate in the program supply age-appropriate books for children to take home after pediatric check-ups.  Each child gets nine books within a five-year period, beginning at 6 months and ending at age 5.

Promoting Early Literacy
Books, like the one that Dr. Tara Forcier is giving her patient above, are provided by the Reach Out and Read program through a nonprofit foundation created by Pediatrics in Brevard.

The three-part model to promote early literacy and school readiness includes:

  1. While in the exam room, doctors and nurses speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud to their young children every day, and offer age-appropriate tips and encouragement.
  2. The pediatric primary care provider gives every child 6 months through 5 years old a new, developmentally appropriate children’s book to take home and keep.
  3. Displays, information, and books to create a literacy-rich environment are available in the waiting room.
Early Exposure To Reading ‘Jump Starts’ Language Skills

Research shows that reading aloud to babies promotes the enhancement of cognitive, motor, language and developmental skills.  Additional studies show families served by programs such as Reach Out and Read, actually read together more often, while providing children entering kindergarten a larger vocabulary and stronger language skills.  This in turn gives kids a “jump start” to better prepare and achieve their potential throughout their academic careers.

Locally, books given to patients through the Reach Out and Read program are purchased through a nonprofit foundation created by Pediatrics in BrevardOur employees give a significant amount of financial support to this program, as do numerous Brevard County corporations and businesses.

Progressive Growth Of Reach Out and Read
It is projected that Dr. Bill Knappenberger (above with a very young “reader”) and his colleagues at Pediatrics In Brevard will be giving over 12,ooo books to children through the Reach Out and Read Program this year.

In 2003, Pediatrics in Brevard gave Brevard County children 1,600 books. In 2004, 8,800 books were distributed, and the pediatric group is projecting to give more than 12,000 books to patients in 2013.

I am proud to be a part of such a philanthropic pediatric group that not only focuses on the physical and mental wellness of these children, but also on preparing them for their academic future through the support of this renowned national literacy program.

For Additional Information on Pediatrics in Brevard’s Reach Out & Read program, call 321-636-3066, or visit PedsIn


Dr. Stockett

Mary Stockett, MD holds board certification in both general pediatrics and child abuse pediatrics. She received her medical degree in 1994 from the University of Oklahoma, and completed her pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma. Dr. Stockett began private practice with Pediatrics in Brevard in 1998.  She also holds the title of Medical Director for the Brevard County Child Protection Team, is past Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Holmes Regional Medical Center, and continues to serve on committees within the hospital and throughout the Brevard community.