SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Some doctors give out lollipops after children's checkups. Pediatricians prefer books at the Open Door Family Medical Centers in Sleepy Hollow, Ossining, Port Chester and Mount Kisco.
"Open Door values reading," Open Door CEO Lindsay Farrell said. "Our physicians actually stress the value of literacy right there in the exam room."
Open Door doctors participate in a national program called Reach Out and Read, which encourages medical professionals to stress the importance of reading to parents and kids during regular pediatric checkups. Reach Out and Read provides developmentally appropriate books to doctors, who give them away to patients.
The Reach Out and Read program begins at the six-month checkup and lasts until age 5. Kids in the program enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, program officials say.
More than 14,000 Westchester kids participate in the program, which puts a special emphasis on lower-income communities, said Traci Lester, executive director of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York.
State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti visited the Open Door Medical Center in Sleepy Hollow on Wednesday to promote the program, saying it was important to combine health and literacy.
"You can't separate one part of life from another," he said.
The Reach Out and Read program has been a success "for years and years and years" at all of the Open Door Medical Center locations because wonderful books are available, Farrell said. Doctors also like the program.
"The doctors love it because we get to give out books instead of giving out shots," she said. "It makes the whole experience that much nicer."