UNION COUNTY – New Jersey Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Union) and Assemblyman Eric Munoz, M.D. (R-Summit) joined with New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and medical technology industry on Tuesday to deliver 2,000 new children’s books to two medical facilities to distribute to their youngest patients. The sites participate in Reach Out and Read, a national children’s literacy program in which doctors give books to infants, toddlers and preschoolers at check-ups and advise their parents about the importance of reading to their children.
The donated books were delivered to the Summit and Elizabeth health care facilities under a partnership between New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and medical technology companies and their trade association, the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ), with Reach Out and Read. HINJ member companies have pledged to provide $100,000 per year for three years to support existing Reach Out and Read sites in New Jersey, expand the program to serve more at-risk children, and establish an infrastructure to help the program grow and sustain itself in New Jersey.
“Reading is one of life’s basic necessities and the cornerstone for attaining a strong and well rounded education,” said Kean. “The earlier a child learns how to read, the greater the likelihood of success in the classroom and beyond. I commend the HealthCare Institute and New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and medical technology companies for participating in the Reach Out and Read Program and appreciate the opportunity to assist them with such a worthwhile cause.”
As a major partner of Reach Out and Read, New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and medical technology companies have made a multi-year commitment to expand and enhance the program. “This is the second year of our partnership. Last year we donated 37,000 new children’s books to Reach Out and Read providers throughout the state. This year, we have committed to delivering a minimum of 45,000 books,” said Bob Franks, president of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey. “We are pleased to visit these sites to show our support for this wonderful program. Our donation today totals $6,000 – that’s 2,000 children’s books that will be distributed across Summit and Elizabeth to children ages five and younger.”
The books were presented during events at the Overlook Hospital Pediatric Ambulatory Services, 33 Overlook Road, in Summit and the Trinitas Hospital Pediatric Health Center, 65 Jefferson Avenue, in Elizabeth. Attending the Overlook Hospital event in Summit were Kean, Assemblyman Eric Munoz, M.D., and Summit Councilman Thomas Getzendanner.
Munoz said that, as the son of an educator, he learned at an early age the importance of reading in a child’s life. “Books not only provide knowledge, they can inspire a child’s imagination. I am happy to be here in support of this vital literacy program. New Jersey’s children benefit greatly from programs like Reach Out and Read and I thank New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and medical technology companies for this generous donation,” he said.
Reach Out and Read focuses on the children at greatest risk – children aged 6 months to 5 years living at or near poverty. Doctors participating in Reach Out and Read distribute carefully selected new, developmentally and culturally appropriate books – starting with board books for babies and moving on to more complex picture books for preschoolers. Bilingual books are available in 12 languages. Each child who participates in Reach Out and Read starts kindergarten with a home library of up to 10 books and a parent who has heard at every well-child visit about the importance of books and reading.
Research shows that the program really works. Studies illustrate that parents who get books and literacy counseling from their doctors and nurses are more likely to read to their young children, read to them more often, and provide more books in the home.
Low-income children exposed to Reach Out and Read show improved language development, a critical component of school readiness. Children score 4 to 8 points higher on vocabulary tests, giving 2-year-olds a 6 month head start developmentally. The only American literacy program featured at the recent White House Conference on Global Literacy and one of five organizations worldwide to be awarded a 2007 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) literacy award, Reach Out and Read is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Last year, New Jersey doctors gave away more than 96,000 books to over 70,000 of the state’s youngest low-income children at 49 Reach Out and Read sites.
Reach Out and Read Medical Director Perri Klass, M.D., says that the grant from New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and medical technology companies will make it possible to serve a greater number of New Jersey’s youngest at-risk children. “We are grateful to HINJ and its member companies for their commitment to the children of New Jersey and thrilled to see the books resulting from our partnership delivered to the Reach Out and Read sites in Elizabeth and Summit,” Klass says. “The grant has created great momentum for expansion of the Reach Out and Read literacy program in New Jersey.”
Nationally, thousands of doctors this year will give 5.4 million new books to 3.3 million low-income families in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today, Reach Out and Read reaches about 25% of America’s most impoverished children. For further information, visit Reach Out and Read’s website at www.reachoutandread.org.
Updated Nov. 13, 2008 (photo added)
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