RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Dr. Richard Bennett is making his rounds, but on this day a story replaces his stethoscope.
“Are you guys ready to read?” he asks children in a classroom at Partnership for Families.
“Yes!” they exclaim.
Bennett, is a pediatrician with Reach Out and Read Virginia. He and other program participants visit classrooms with a book in hand.
“From zero to five, those are the years where literally buds propagate just like they do on a tree,” explains Sue Rockwell, the Executive Director of Reach Out and Read Virginia. “Certainly with technology now, I think we’re getting away from actually sitting down and reading a book and having your child close to you.”
Rockwell adds that research has found reading boosts language development and imagination along with strengthening family ties.
“They look forward to that time, they learn to bond, they learn words, they learn trust, they learn how to focus,” says Bennett.
After each session, he gives the children an assignment in the way a doctor knows best.
“I’m going to give each one of you a prescription and then you get to get a book,” he tells the students, handing them the small piece of paper. “There you go.”
Reading is a healthy habit to start that has a lasting impact.
“When you learn to love to read, you learn to love to learn,” Bennett says.
Pediatricians involved with Reach Out and Read Virginia also incorporate story time in their offices. At each exam, they read a book to young patients.