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Virginia Mason Pediatricians Emphasize Reading as Important to Children’s Wellness

Logo: Reach Out and ReadFEDERAL WAY – (July 27, 2017) — Pediatricians at Virginia Mason Federal Way Medical Center are promoting reading and literacy development as a prescription for success for their young patients.

They have joined the Reach Out and Read program and are giving free books to their patients and encouraging parents to read aloud with their children. With every well-child check for boys and girls between the ages of six months and five years at the Federal Way Medical Center, the youngster receives a new, age-appropriate book to take home. More than 200 books have been given so far.

Research has shown that the ability to read is critical to a child’s success in school and beyond.

“Early reading experiences and opportunities to build vocabulary and a literacy-rich environment are the best ways to support the development of cognitive skills that ensure children are prepared for success at home, in the classroom and in any future workplace,” said pediatrician Lauren Athay, MD.

“The look of wonder and excitement on a child’s face when enjoying a new book is rewarding enough,” she added. “But to also know that each book is building a foundation for lifelong literacy skills is priceless.”

Reach Out and Read is a national nonprofit program created to give children a running start toward success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. On its website, the program states “that the best opportunity to influence a child’s future is in the first five years, a critical window of rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time. Children who hear fewer words during early childhood start school developmentally behind their peers and may never catch up. When families read aloud to their young children, they can give them a better start to life.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recognizes the value of parents reading aloud with their children. “Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime,” according to the organization’s policy statement.

“As a pediatrician, it is my honor to help guide parents in raising happy, healthy and successful children,” Dr. Athay said. “All of us at the Virginia Mason Federal Way Medical Center are extremely proud to be one of the newest Reach Out and Read sites in Washington state and we are confident our patients will continue to enjoy and appreciate this addition to their routine well- child care.”

About Virginia Mason Health System
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 500 physicians; regional medical centers in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS; Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others from around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management methodology for continually improving quality, safety and efficiency. Virginia Mason online: VirginiaMason.org

Virginia Mason Health System also includes Virginia Mason Memorial, a 226-bed hospital serving the Yakima Valley in central Washington since 1950. Memorial online: YakimaMemorial.org

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Media Relations Manager
Virginia Mason Health System
(206) 341-1509
gale.robinette@VirginiaMason.org