Reach Out and Read is Positively Richmond

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Melanie Hawkins has a big personality.

“It’s right here,” the three-year-old points to her ear, when Dr. Addie Briggs asks her where it is.

Melanie is the perfect patient during her exam, and she knows afterwards there is a sweet reward.

“We always say we’re prescribing them a book to get them used to a book, interacting with a book, reading a book, touching a book,” explains ‘Dr. Addie,’ as her pint-sized patients call her.

Dr. Addie’s office, East End Pediatrics, is part of the Reach Out and Read program. Literacy is a part of every wellness visit for kids up to age five, and they can take home a brand-new book.

Melanie says she likes ‘Peppa the Pig’ stories best, but all books help with her learning and development.

“She’s able to understand and see sight words because of the baby books that she received when she was a little baby, and they grew with her,” says Regina Hawkins, Melanie’s mother.

Pediatricians recommend parents read to their children every day, and practices involved with Reach Out and Read aim to make that goal easily within reach.

“It just promotes closeness,” says Susan Rockwell, the Reach Out and Read Virginia Executive Director. “They’re going to associate reading with sitting with mommy and daddy and how special that time is.”

For adolescents, there are age-appropriate books in the waiting room.

Ja'Kyah Hayes says she enjoys reading for pleasure and for her school work.
Ja’Kyah Hayes says she enjoys reading for pleasure and for her school work.

Eleven-year-old Ja’Kyah Hayes just picked out ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ after finishing a new favorite, ‘The Last Kids on Earth.’

“It was pretty interesting,” Ja’Kyah says. “It had a lot of action.”

The George F. Baker Elementary School student notices the more she reads, the better she does in class.

“It has words that you have to know so you can pass the test,” Ja’Kyah explains.

Dr. Addie says the love of reading her patients share means the program is working.

“It’s actually exciting to me as a pediatrician when a kid comes in and says, ‘Am I going to get a book?  Am I going to get a book?”

Reach Out and Read always needs new and gently-used books to stock shelves at doctors’ offices throughout the area.

The program is also looking for people and groups to hold book drives on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2. Follow this link for how to get involved.

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