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Experts Say Florida Children Benefit from Nightly Reading

PHOTO: The national organization Reach Out and Read distributes books through pediatrician offices at children's well-check visits. Photo courtesy of Reach Out and Read.
PHOTO: The national organization Reach Out and Read distributes books through pediatrician offices at children's well-check visits. Photo courtesy of Reach Out and Read.
September 2, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. - After a long day of work and school, finding time to read to your child can be a challenge, but experts say making time to do so can offer a valuable bonding experience for both parent and child.

Programs like Reach Out and Read work to encourage reading, and executive director Brian Gallagher says the simple act of a parent or guardian reading aloud to their child can make a positive difference in the child's development, and he notes there's more to it than reading.

"The book in many ways helps to create the interaction," says Gallagher, "by having the parent hold the child, sit with the child, have the child hear the parent's voice."

In Florida, Reach Out and Read works with pediatricians to hand out books at annual well-check visits, and the organization distributes almost 210,000 books annually.

Gallagher says by working with doctors to distribute donated books, Reach Out and Read is able to connect with children and their parents.

"The doctor is that trusted messenger," says Gallagher. "When the doctor hands a child a book, starting when they're babies, the parent's going to hear the message very early on this is something that's good for your child, it's good for you."

H.W. Cumming is a technology executive and dad who, in spite of frequent traveling for his job, has made time for nightly reading to his children. Some nights he found himself making up stories, and recently turned them into the children's fantasy novel "The Adventures of Horace, George and Ingle: The Rise of the Black Knight." The book was published this summer.

"It was always something we kept very sacred, something we had to do," says Cumming. "It was something we did that was our bonding time and we never missed it."

In addition to making reading to your child a part of your everyday routine, Gallagher recommends letting your child turn the pages, talk about the pictures and ask your child to retell the story.

According to Child Trends, 55 percent of children aged three to five in the U.S. are read to every day.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - FL