Things will kick off in the spring.

    Baby, it’s cold outside! So what better time to snuggle close to your little ones and do a little reading together?

    Studies show that regularly reading to children will produce significant gains in their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and the decoding of words.

Reach Out to Read
    RiverView Health, with the help of the Crookston Early Childhood Initiative (CECI), is about to implement a new program for children ages 6 months through 5 years-old called Reach Out and Read (ROR) that will aid in getting those little ones off to a solid literary start.

    Reach Out and Read, is a non-profit program that promotes early literacy and school readiness to young children and their families through thousands of pediatricians in all 50 states. Each year, medical providers at the nearly 5,000 Reach Out and Read program sites nationwide distribute 6.5 million books to children and invaluable literacy advice to parents. RiverView Health was recently approved to join the ranks of Reach Out and Read participants.

    Starting this spring, during regular pediatric checkups at RiverView Health, Crookston, children up to 5-years-old will receive a new, developmentally-appropriate book at each checkup, and parents will be given advice about the importance of reading aloud to their children.

Partners in literacy
    While RiverView has been accepted into the Reach Out and Read program, funding is not currently available through the program for books. Therefore, RiverView is happy to partner with the Crookston ECI in a grant that will ensure funding for books for the first year of the program.

    Crookston ECI representatives will soon help RiverView Health providers, trained through the ROR program, choose age-appropriate books from ROR’s suggested titles.

    “This is such a great way to get books in the hands of children,’’ said Gina Gunderson, CECI Coordinator.”The Northwest Minnesota Foundation really supports literacy. Literacy is huge. The earlier children are exposed to literacy, the better they will do when they get to school.’’

    The Crookston Early Childhood Initiative is a collaboration of more than 25 community leaders, professionals, and parents, sponsored by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. CECI’s vision is that young children and their families will have access to supportive opportunities which allow them to love, learn, and thrive. The CECI participates in many activities throughout the year, including the Month of the Young Child in April, Safety Town, the Early Childhood Summit and the Taxi Foundation.

A solid start
    Below are some suggestions on how to get children off to a solid literary start.

    • Set aside time to read to your child daily.
    • Surround your child with reading material. Put reading materials in cars, bathrooms, bedrooms, family rooms, and even by the TV.
    • Have a family reading time. Establish a daily 15-30 minute time when everyone in the family reads together silently. Seeing you read will inspire your child to read.
    • Encourage a variety of reading activities. Have them read menus, roadside signs, game directions, weather reports, movie time listings and other everyday information.
    • Develop the library habit.
    • Be knowledgeable about your child’s progress. Find out what reading skills your child is expected to have at each grade level. Track their progress in acquiring basic reading skills on report cards and standardized tests.
    • Look for reading problems. Find out if your child can sound out words, knows sight words, uses context to identify unknown words, and clearly understands what they read.
    • Get help promptly for reading problems. Reading problems do not magically disappear with time. The earlier children receive help, the more likely they will become good readers.
    • Use a variety of aids to help your child improve their reading. Use text books, computer programs, books-on-tape, games, and other materials. Games are especially good choices because they let children have fun as they work on their skills.
    • Show enthusiasm for your child’s reading.