Reading is the best medicine: The ROR* Stories of Karen Haslund, MD
In no particular order, I have seen these families this year at Children’s Wellness. We are out in the sticks in Del Valle. Many of our families live in old trailers. Many do not have safe water systems… The septic systems run out into the front yard. The kids are loved but resources are nonexistent. There is no grocery, no library and no safe place to play. The only source of books is the local Dollar General store or the school library during the school year.
- I had a 5 year old last week take my book offering, kiss it and twirl around like a ballerina singing “My book, my book, my beautiful new book!”
- The school nurses tell us that the children carry their RIF** books in their backpacks so that they are sure they can keep them when they have to move. They tell us that the librarians see the kids pulling out library books on library day with backpacks stuffed with their treasured books from RIF.
- A grandmother of now 6 kids including one with cancer said that the books from the hospital and the clinic were one of the things that was keeping the family going. She said it was one of the blessings that had been given her in the midst of all the struggles in her life and the child’s life.
- Another grandmother clutched at the books I offered her grandchildren. When I found out that they had almost no books I went back to my stash of gently used books and pulled out some for the older children. Grandmother began to cry. She said, “You don’t know what this means to them kids. They want learning and I can’t give them none.” I gave her the whole box full of books. We were both crying.
- I saw a toddler grab my book, right it in his hands, turn around and push it into his mother’s lap, squirm up and pull on her arm to get her to start to read. I didn’t have to assess this young 15 year-old mom and her baby. I could tell without saying a single thing that this amazing teen mom was giving all she had to help her young son. They are going to do ok – both of them. The young mom has dreams of finishing high school and becoming a dental assistant. She will probably do just fine.
- [Reach Out and Read] is the most wonderful thing I do in pediatrics. Second to the immunizations and protection from disease, this is a game changer for our families. I give nightly thanks that I am allowed to participate in such a wonderful program.
*Reach Out and Read
**Reading Is Fundamental