Doctors combat illiteracy, give free books to children during visit

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News 12 This Morning/Friday Jan. 17, 2014

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW)--"For me, it's important that a child have a healthy body as well as a healthy mind," said pediatrician Dr. Saira Alimohamed.

Dr. Alimohamed says helping build healthy minds is part of the reason she's glad her practice is partnered with Reach Out and Read, a national non-profit that helps get free books into the hands of children.

"The reason that we think this is such an important idea is because on a regular basis pediatrician's have access to families," she explained. "We get to meet with them and see how their babies are growing, their children are developing."

So along with every check up and possible treatment or diagnosis, Alimohamed also hands out a book according to age level.

"Starting from the six month visit all the way until their 5 years old," she said. "So, pretty much every time we see a kid we're able to give them one of our new books and say 'reading out loud is really important for your child' and we really encourage families to read daily."

Research from Reach Out and Read shows young children who are read to daily have more success when they begin school.

"Studies really show that children who are successful when they enter kindergarten continue to want to learn to be excited about reading," said Alimohamed.

And she agrees the earlier children can get introduced to books--the better.

"That first five years of life is--I always tell parents, 'Your baby's brain is like a sponge. Anything you read to them, sing to them--they're absorbing and they're learning.'" she said.

She tells me without the partnership, the practice probably couldn't provide this extra service.

"Books are hard to come by sometimes. Nice books they're not cheap and we want families to have a good wealth of them . You know, we give kids shots so that's not happy, but when we give them a book at least there's something they can walk away with a smile at the end of the visit," she said.

Dr. Alimohamed's practice, Palmetto Pediatric Center, is one of three in Aiken County that works with Reach Out and Read.

In the past year, more than 3,400 children have been reached in the Aiken County area, according to the organization.

For more information about Reach Out and Read and to find a location near you, click the link below the photo.

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