Reach Out and Read

Clinic-based reading program has been to shown to improve literacy.

Loma Linda University Health pediatricians are working with the First 5 San Bernardino initiative to help improve literacy rates of patients in the community.

In 11 pediatric clinics throughout the Loma Linda University Health System from Beaumont-Banning to SAC Health System in San Bernardino, children ages sixth months to 5-years-old receive an age-appropriate book during their well-child visit — a healthcare appointment to check on a child’s growth and development in order to find or prevent medical problems. 

Loma Linda University Health pediatricians have given out 25,000 bi-lingual books through the Reach Out and Read program since 2017. Book topics include dental hygiene, community, nutrition, physical activity and relationship-building.

Various studies have shown the effectiveness of the Reach Out and Read program, including families reading more frequently to their children and larger increases in language assessment scores.

Loma Linda University Health pediatrician and School of Medicine professor, Marti Baum, MD, says reading to children beginning at birth and continuing at least through kindergarten is hugely beneficial. 

“Behavioral evidence has shown that children who are read to, especially before school entry, experience stronger parent-child relationships and learn valuable language, and increase their vocabulary and literacy skills,” Baum says. “Children who incorporate 20 minutes a day of reading will typically read at a level five months ahead of their peers.”

Baum says a child psychologist was consulted in order to select age-appropriate books that would contribute to a child’s literacy development and reflect whole-person living. Each child will have a library of 11 books upon completion of the program.

Books are donated by First 5 San Bernardino, a non-profit that seeks to promote, support and enhance the health and early development of children prenatal through age five and their families and communities.

In San Bernardino County, nearly 70% of 3rd graders are not reading at a grade level, according to the Inland Empire United Way.

“For some of our patients, these books are the only ones they have in their language and might be the only books they have,” Baum says. “The little ones and their families treasure them.”

To find out more about our community programs, visit the Institute for Community Partnerships website

Need to schedule your child’s well-child visit? Call us today at 800-825-KIDS to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician or schedule online using MyChart. Not signed up in MyChart? Learn how to enroll here.