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Promoting good health and a love of reading

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
By Blair Callahan
Elizabeth Erickson, MD

Pediatric patients at Duke Children's Primary Care at Roxboro Street are receiving more than just a check-up during their visits to the doctor – they're also getting a book.

Pediatricians Jennifer Lawson, MD, FAAP, and Ellie Erickson, MD, FAAP, both of Duke Children's Primary Care, spearhead the Reach Out and Read program as co-directors at all three Duke Children's Primary Care sites. The program provides books to children between the ages of six months and five years during their well-child visits, along with guidance about book sharing.

"Children who receive these books are more likely to have books in the home, more likely to be read to on a regular basis and they're more likely to be ready to enter school," said Erickson. "The program empowers families to participate in their children's lives in ways that sometimes their home life isn't set up for."

Duke's program has provided more than 6,000 new books annually to pediatric patients, 57 percent of whom are uninsured or on Medicaid. 

"The program supports both early literacy skills and bringing a smile to the faces of our patients," said Lawson. "They begin to look forward to receiving their books. The program allows us to share the love of reading, while taking care of our patients as well."

"Giving a book to a child while they're here makes our visits more fun and engaging," said Erickson. "My favorite part of being involved in Reach out and Read is knowing that I'm providing something to the kids that will positively impact their lives from that moment on."