SALT LAKE CITY — Your pediatrician may start asking not just about your child's immunizations but what books they're reading, as well.
You expect to find shots, stethoscopes and such in a doctor's office, but books? More Utah pediatricians are asking about literacy and even giving books away to lower-income families as part of a program called "Reach Out and Read Utah."
The program's medical director, Dr. Wendy Hobson-Rohrer, says they start with children as young as 6 months old.
"That's really a critical time for language development," she said. "We've seen that if you give books to children and encourage their parents to read to them, their language skills improve dramatically."
She says the program emphasizes that the parent is the first and best teacher of the child.
"And so, to give the parents the tools to know how to use a book and interact with a book, even in infancy, is really important," she said.
Dr. Hobson-Rohrer says as pediatricians have done a better job with immunizations and antibiotics, they have changed to focus more on development and the holistic view of the family and the child.
The program, for children ages 6 months to 5 years, has given away 78,000 books and serves more than 40,000 children per year. The program is in 39 different clinical sites in Utah. A list can be found at reachoutandreadutah.org.