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Mary Bridge Children’s Loves to Read program expands to inpatient unit with donor support

The benefits associated with reading are endless.

By Kortney Scroger

The benefits associated with reading are endless. According to the national Reach Out & Read program, engaging in language-rich interactions helps children develop communication skills, patience, empathy, a wider vocabulary, increased listening skills and more.

“Learning to read is one of the most important developmental goals of childhood — one that should not only be encouraged during times of wellness,” Mary Bridge Children’s Inpatient Services Provider Robyn Rogers, MD says. “Hospitalization is an intense and vulnerable time for patients and families, and books are powerful coping tools. Floating high in a giant peach with James, walking the ridgepole with Anne, traveling to the county fair with Wilber and Charlotte — reading opens the door to adventure, comfort, escape, empowerment. That experience can reinforce books as a source of strength and refuge, as well as encourage further reading.”

That’s why Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital is dedicated to getting books in the hands of more children through Mary Bridge Children’s Loves to Read. With this program, patients receive a book they can take home after a wellness visit. And thanks to the support of Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation donors, the program is expanding.

“This is a new program to our inpatient unit, and I’m excited to offer something that helps support kids’ development,” Child Life Specialist Kristen Bishop says. “I love the idea that books are mirrors and windows into other people’s lives. We definitely hope to share that idea and concept with our patients and families.”

Beginning January 2002, every patient admitted to the hospital can pick out a book free of charge to enjoy during their stay and to take home when discharged. Every day, volunteers will bring a cart around the hospital floors, so kids can pick a brand new, age-appropriate book of their choice.

“Literacy is the cornerstone of personal agency and societal participation, the power of which has been known for centuries,” Dr. Rogers says. “Promoting literacy is nothing short of promoting equity and inclusion. As these are central values at Mary Bridge Children’s, it's a natural extension to include literacy promotion in our daily work.”

To bring this program to life, Mary Bridge Children’s Child Life Department worked with Curious Bear Toy & Books Shop in Fircrest to purchase more than 500 books for infants, children and young adults.   

“Partnership is key to our success,” Kristen says. “I love that we’re able to give back and partner with our community in this way — it’s a total win-win. The small business is supported, and our patients get beautiful, high-quality books. We hope these books are a positive memory from their hospital stay.”

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