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May 22, 2012 > Reading is So Delicious

Reading is So Delicious

Washington Hospital Book Fair Links Literacy to Good Health

About one in three children entering kindergarten today lack the basic language skills they need to learn to read, according to Reach Out and Read, a national group of pediatricians who promote school readiness and literacy skills. Dr. Courtney LaCaze-Adams, a Fremont pediatrician with Washington Township Medical Foundation and a member of the Washington Hospital medical staff, has been involved in the organization since she was in medical school and is working with the two other pediatricians in her practice, Dr. Amy Tun and Dr. Swetha Kowsik, to promote early childhood reading to the local community.

With the help of the Alameda County Library, they have organized a free Book Fair on Sunday, June 3, for families and children. The Washington Hospital Book Fair will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium in Washington West, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

"The purpose of the Book Fair is to generate community excitement about reading as we enter the summer months," LaCaze-Adams said. "We wanted to promote the library's summer reading program and encourage parents to read to their children. As pediatricians, we believe reading to young children is important. Overall, good literacy skills lead to better health for a number of reasons."

While the Book Fair is not an official Reach Out and Read event, LaCaze-Adams was inspired to organize the local event due to her work with the organization. She said studies show that children who enter kindergarten ready to learn do much better in school. In addition, the ability to read allows people to learn more about their health and healthy behaviors.

"They can go on the internet and read about healthy eating, ways to lower their risk for disease, and other important health-related information," LaCaze-Adams said. "Patients often feel more comfortable talking with their doctor about their health concerns when they are informed. They can also read any medical information that is provided to them by their physician."

Reading is a Family Affair

The Book Fair is designed to be a fun family event and raise awareness among parents about the importance of reading to their young children. Early language skills are based primarily on language exposure, which results from parents and other adults talking to and reading with their young children, according to Reach Out and Read.

"Reading aloud to children is how we engage children in reading at a very young age," said LaCaze-Adams. "It is critical for language development. We talk with parents about reading to their children during regular doctor visits. But we thought this Book Fair would be a great way to get the entire community involved."

She and her colleagues have gained the support of other local doctors as well as police and firefighters, who will read aloud to children during the Book Fair. A magician will perform a magic show at 3 p.m. and there will be balloon animals for children to enjoy. A Washington Hospital nutritionist will also be on hand engaging children in healthy food choices and demonstrating easy ways to make healthy snacks that appeal to children.

Every child will get a free book to take home with them thanks to a book drive organized by Washington Township Medical Foundation and the Washington Hospital Employees' Association. Books are being collected from hospital staff and community members.

Olympic champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, who was born in Hayward, also donated a signed copy of her recent book, "It's a Big World, Little Pig," which will be raffled off during the Book Fair.

"The overwhelming support we have received from the hospital and the community to make this event special has been really wonderful," said LaCaze-Adams. "It should be a lot of fun for families with toddlers and elementary school-age children."

Your health care, your way

For more information about Washington Township Medical Foundation and its more than 60 board-certified physicians with expertise in a broad range of medical specialties - from neurosurgery to pediatrics - visit www.mywtmf.com or call (866) 710-9864.

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