By Betty Williamson
Young children heading to the Roosevelt General Hospital Clinic often toddle out the door with a book or two in hand, thanks to a program called Reach Out and Read, and to two women who are devoted to implementing it locally.
Dr. Erika Garcia, who practices family medicine at the Portales clinic, and Kathy Smith, a clinic ambassador who can usually be found at the front desk, are partners in getting books into the homes of budding readers.
“I firmly believe that literacy/language is a part of a child’s overall development,” Garcia told me. “It’s an amazing program and the look on a child’s face when they get a new book is awesome.”
Youngsters from 6 months through 5 years are the main targets of the program, receiving an age-appropriate new book with each well-child visit.
At the same time, Smith oversees an ongoing effort to keep a bookshelf in the waiting room stocked with “gently used” books for young visitors to peruse as they wait, or to take home and keep. She’s also always on the lookout for volunteers who are interested in reading aloud in the well-patient side of the waiting room.
With my own avid reader heading to college, it might be time to thin out my collection. I can’t think of a better new home.
Betty Williamson would much rather have a book than a sticker. You may reach her at: