Weatherford Democrat

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December 27, 2012

Doctor prescribes reading to young patients

By CHRISTIN COYNE

Reading and education is something that Kimberly Strickland, a Weatherford family medicine doctor, is passionate about.

Outside of her office, Strickland currently gives hands-on health and science presentations to preschool and kindergarten age children but has decided to bring educational opportunities to her own new practice, as well.

Strickland recently began giving away free books to her young patients, who make up about half her practice, and arranged for her colleagues with the Lone Star Medical Group to do the same, as well, through the national Reach Out and Read program.

The hope is not only to give something to kids to read but to educate parents on the benefits of reading to children early, according to Strickland.

During her pediatric rotations as a medical student, Strickland said they would give books to children during their well child check-up.

“I thought that was just standard,” Strickland said.

After starting her practice in Weatherford earlier this year, Strickland said she discovered that it was a national nonprofit program that partners with medical providers to promote literacy by giving children new books and educating parents about reading to children.

According to the organization’s website, Reach Out and Read began in Boston in 1989 and currently partners with 5,000 sites to distribute about 6.5 million books each year.

“Education is so important,” Strickland said. “It has allowed me to become a doctor ... I know how important it is to start really young.”

The doctors participating in the program, which provides grant money to help pay for the books, first learn how to explain how to parents the importance of early reading, Strickland said.

“When a first-time mother brings a child into the doctor’s office, she often doesn’t really know when to start reading to them,” Strickland said.

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