13:08 PM

Sunny View Pediatrics encourages kids to read

Whenever children visit Sunny View Pediatrics in Kalispell for a checkup, they leave with a parting gift: a new book to read. For the past two years, the clinic has been partnered with the Reach Out and Read Program, a national nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. Today they distribute over 7 million books a year to 4.8 million children across the United States.

Statistics show that children who hear fewer words during early childhood start school developmentally behind their peers and may never catch up. Reading aloud to children before they go off to kindergarten can give them a better start to their life. The Reach Out and Read program offers books for children aged six months to five years old. During that time, patients at Sunny View Pediatrics go through 11 well child checks, meaning that they receive 11 different books. “By the time they’re five, they almost have their very own little library,” says Kendra Moore, practice manager at Sunny View Pediatrics.

Each month, Sunny View Pediatrics gives approximately 300 books to their patients. The clinic’s nursing staff is heavily involved in the program as well. They partner with their provider to choose the book from their bookshelf specifically for their patient. Kendra makes sure that there is a wide variety so that kids receive new, more advanced books as they grow up.

While the Reach Out and Read program covers children during the crucial development phase, it doesn’t cover those over five. “We don’t like for siblings coming in together and only one of them getting a book,” says Moore. “It’s important to not only get kids excited about reading, but to also keep them engaged throughout their childhood.” Last fall, Moore approached the Flathead County Library to see if they would be willing to donate any books for their cause. As it turned out, they were already donating books to the NICU at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. However, they were generously willing to donate to Sunny View Pediatrics as well.

Now whenever kids aged five and up come with their younger sibling for their well child check, Sunny View Pediatrics can give them a gift bag, which includes a donated book from the library, a toy, an activity card, and a library card that they can take to the Flathead County Library to activate. Both the Reach Out and Read program and the library gift bags have been very well received by the children thus far. Both programs offer a wide variety of books in both English and Spanish. While the books are meant to benefit the children, they also serve as guidance to parents as well. With so much technology to serve as an alternative, it can be easy to miss out on early childhood reading. Parents, especially first-time parents, benefit from getting an extra push from their pediatricians to read aloud to their child in order to give them a head start.

If you or someone you know would like to sponsor the Sunny View Pediatrics Reach Out and Read program with a tax deductible gift, please call (406) 751-8080.