Published on June 11, 2020

Reach Out and Read program providing books to OH pediatric patients

team members hold children's books

The bonding experience of reading a book with your child is one to be treasured, and our dedicated Owensboro Health team members are working to ensure more families have that opportunity.

Owensboro Health Medical Group Children’s Center is participating in Reach Out and Read in partnership with the Public Life Foundation, Owensboro Health Government and Community Affairs and the Owensboro Health Foundation. This initiative works with pediatric care providers to give children free books and educate parents on the benefits of reading to their children from a young age.

Children receive free books to take home at each of their 6, 9, 12 and 15-month well-child visits. More age groups will be added each year for a total of three years funded by the Public Life Foundation.

“Parents and children are loving our new Reach out and Read program and are appreciative of the new books that they are able to introduce to their children,” Children’s Center Office Supervisor Brandy Hoagland said. “Some parents start reading the book to their child right away!”

Reading is a catalyst for early childhood development, but many families are unaware of its benefits or have limited resources to build a library at home. Data from Reach Out and Read shows 66 percent of children grow up in families that do not read aloud daily, and low-income children have heard 30 million fewer words than their affluent peers by age three.

“I could not be more pleased our Children’s Center is participating in the program as it is in line with our primary focus area of Children and School Health and impacts multiple social determinants of health. It is a wonderful example of community organizations working together to better the lives of children in our community,” Director of Community Engagement Debbie Zuerner Johnson said.

In the last three months, the program has provided books to:

  • 112 six-month olds
  • 93 nine-month olds
  • 104 12-month olds
  • 86 15-month olds

Demand has been so high that the program’s next order for 480 books has already been placed to begin preparing to serve more families.

“The benefits that we have seen so far are an improved willingness and understanding by the parents of the importance of reading to your child,” Hoagland said. “As we increase age groups that participate in the Reach Out and Read program in future years, we will see an improvement in the vocabulary of the children in the program.”

The program is preparing to expand into another OH practice to serve the pediatric patients of Owensboro Health Medical Group Family Medicine Residency.


About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.