PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Learn to Love Reading…at the Doctor’s Office

Posted on Jan 18, 2013

Dolores Espinoza, a patient service representative in the Pediatrics Department of PAMF’s Santa Cruz’ main clinic, shows a Reach Out and Read book that children receive as a gift to encourage reading.

Dolores Espinoza, a patient service representative in the Pediatrics Department of the PAMF Santa Cruz main clinic, shows a Reach Out and Read book that children receive as a gift to encourage reading.

When children come to the Pediatrics Department at the PAMF Santa Cruz main clinic for their next well-child check up they won’t just get their scheduled vaccinations, each child will also receive a new book.

This gift of a book is part of the Reach Out and Read Program that includes the following components:

  • At each well-child exam, from 6 months through 5 years, the child receives a new developmentally appropriate book to take home.
  • In the exam room, pediatricians and medical staff share the importance of reading aloud with parents and encourage them to read to their children often.
  • In the waiting room, displays, information and books create a literacy-rich environment.

In November 2012 the Santa Cruz Pediatrics Department began participating in this well-established, national program.

“By giving children books and talking to parents about the importance of reading, we’re encouraging a love of reading and learning,” says Melissa Braveman, M.D., FAAP, a Santa Cruz pediatrician who is leading the Reach Out and Read pilot together with Stephanie Connor Kent, the department’s clinical supervisor. “This will help children be more prepared for and successful at school. We also know that people with a higher level of education enjoy better health. By sharing the Reach Out and Read Program with our families we hope to make a lasting positive impact on their children’s health.”

Dr. Braveman discovered and witnessed the benefits of the Reach Out and Read Program during her residency at Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland.

The Right Book for Each Child

Reach Out and Read provides a range of age-appropriate Scholastic books in 14 languages. Santa Cruz Pediatrics Department staff and physicians participated in creating a customized list of books for the department.

“Everyone shared their expertise on what books would be most engaging and appropriate,” says Connor Kent. “This helped us finalize an excellent selection of books that also support good health choices. For example, a medical assistant pointed out that one of the books showed a baby being bottlefed. As we promote breastfeeding, we decided not to pick that one.”

The books include many classics such as “The Runaway Bunny” and “The Cat in the Hat” and are available in English, Spanish and in bi-lingual editions.

“Giving children the book during the well-child exam is an excellent opportunity to talk about developmental milestones,” says Dr. Braveman. “For example, a 6-month-old might put the book in his or her mouth. We can reassure parents that this is a normal, healthy way for a child to interact with and start enjoying books and reading. This can then lead to a conversation about ways to foster a love of reading and lifelong learning.”

Noah, one of Dr. Braveman’s young patients, is already a big fan of the Reach Out and Read Program.

“Noah loves the book he received during his 18-month check up,” says PAMF patient Rachell Isaacs, Noah’s mom. “He calls it ‘doctor book’ and carries it around the house with him everywhere. He wants us to read it to him over and over again. We’re so happy about that because it’s usually really hard to get him to sit down and read. Thank you!”

Initial funding for the Reach Out and Read Program was provided by First 5 Santa Cruz County and PAMF Philanthropy. If you would like to donate to the program, please contact our Philanthropy Department at 831-458-6928 or

About Reach Out and Read

In 2012, 12,000 Reach Out and Read volunteer medical staff and doctors distributed 6.5 million new books to more than 4 million children at almost 5,000 health care clinics in the United States, with a special emphasis on serving those in low-income communities.

According to Reach Out and Read, families served by the program read together more often and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills.

Upcoming Reach Out and Read Storytelling Event

Storyteller Carolyn Brooks

Storyteller Carolyn Brooks

Join costumed storyteller Caroyln Brooks for a magical story time with puppets, musical instruments and interactive flannel boards for children of all ages. Enjoy favorites like the Gingerbread Man and Five Little Monkeys. The first 50 families to attend will receive a free book, and all families are welcome to take photos with Carolyn.

Feb. 4, 2013, 10 to 11 a.m.

Santa Cruz Main Clinic, Pediatrics Lobby, Second Floor, 2025 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz

To RSVP or for more information, contact PAMF Santa Cruz Philanthropy at 831-458-6391 or

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