The Lake County Captains Reading Program is expanding to reach pre-K children through a literacy initiative at pediatric and family medicine practices in Lake and Geauga counties, thanks to support from PNC Bank and the Lake Health Foundation.
Launched in 2002, the reading program reached more than 500,000 school children, fostering a love of reading and inspiring excellence in the classroom. Under the new Rookie Readers program, reading will be introduced at birth to instill a love of learning even earlier in a child’s life.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Rookie Readers program, which will have a tremendously positive impact on our pediatric patients’ cognitive and language development and nurture a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning,” said Dr. John Baniewicz, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Lake Health.
At every well-child check-up, children will receive a free, age-appropriate book; a prescription for daily reading; and a voucher for a free, family pack of tickets to a Lake County Captains home game at Classic Park. Pediatricians and family practitioners also will help parents become more active participants in their child’s early literacy by incorporating reading into daily routines.
“Our goal is to encourage families to read aloud together and get young children excited about reading,” said Neil Stein, Lake County Captains’ general manager. “Just as the act of reading together strengthens the parent-child bond, we want to provide families with an opportunity to enjoy a baseball game together and create special memories.”
PNC Bank, a longtime partner of the Lake County Captains, is providing financial support to Rookie Readers — one of the many initiatives through which the bank supports increasing access to quality early childhood education.
“Through PNC Grow Up Great, our multi-year, $350 million early childhood education initiative, we’ve seen firsthand the impact that early reading can have on children,” said Paul Clark, PNC regional president for Cleveland. “When children are given quality early learning experiences before entering kindergarten, they are better prepared for success in school and life, which helps cultivate the next generation of workers.”
The Lake Health Foundation also is providing funding as well as logistical support. Books and other program materials will be acquired and distributed to Lake Health pediatric and family medicine offices on an ongoing basis.
Integrating books into the pediatric primary care experience is a growing trend. In 2018, Lake Health’s Chardon Pediatrics practice launched Reach Out and Read, a national program that promotes early literacy by prescribing books and reading aloud as a means of fostering language-rich interactions between parents and their young children to stimulate early brain development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pediatric providers promote early literacy development for children beginning in infancy and continuing at least until kindergarten. Research shows that children introduced to reading early on tend to learn to read earlier and excel in school, compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age. Additionally, families who read together more often have children who enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, which better prepares them to achieve.