UnityPoint Health has launched a Reach Out and Read site at UnityPoint Health Pediatrics – Pekin East to provide a literacy program for needing families. 

Reach out and Read is a national pediatric literacy program targeting low-income families. It encourages and educates parents and guardians on the developmental benefits of reading out loud to children and provides a new free book to take home. 

“I personally supplied multiple new books for my patient rooms, and it broke my heart every time a young patient asked me to keep them because they didn’t have books at home,” Dr. Ashley Fischer, a UnityPoint Health pediatrician, said in a UnityPoint news release. “Many parents don’t know you should start to read to your children starting at 6 months old, and for our patients, many times they don’t have the resources (to read to their children). We recognized a need in the community and wanted to take action.” 

The Reach Out and Read certification included a grant provided by the UnityPoint Health Methodist ǀ Proctor Foundation to purchase developmentally appropriate books for the program. The application process for the grant requires clinics to have a large low-income population.

In addition to promoting infancy literacy for children between the ages of 6 months to 5 years old, UnityPoint Health Pediatrics – Pekin East has a lending library set in the clinic’s waiting area. The books were donated by clinic staff and community members, with a selection for all ages including older children. 

UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine – Peoria is also a Reach Out and Read certified clinic. For more information, visit unitypoint.org.