The Reach Out and Read Program continues to be a major part of what goes on at the Will County Health Department Community Health Center. Children between six months and five years of age are encouraged to get started on reading during their Well-Check pediatric exams.
Thanks to donated books and trained volunteers who read to the children while in the waiting room, families are encouraged to promote school success by including reading aloud as part of routine pediatric care and development.
A child can be read to by a volunteer while in the waiting room, and then receive an appropriate storybook to take home after their Well-Check exam. This goal is for each child to have ten new books by the time they are school age. This can be especially crucial for children from families that live below the poverty line, and may lack the money to supply their children with books.
Community Health Center Pediatrician Dr. Carletha Hughes says "it is just exciting to watch. You see children and parents interacting together. This program incorporates literacy, and encourages family bonding through reading instead of through other forms of entertainment."
In 2013, the Community Health Center's participation in Read Out and Read earned them the Richard Robinson Award. Scholastic Inc became the largest distributor of children's books under Robinson's leadership, which began in the mid-70s.
In 2015, Reach Out and Read donated over $2,100.00 to help the Community Health Center purchase over one-thousand age-appropriate storybooks to distribute to children after their exams.
Today, the Will County Health Department Community Health Center continues to ask for the donation of gently used children's books for this program. Stop by at 1106 Neal Avenue in Joliet or check to see if your bookstore or library is accepting donations.