Helping boost low literacy rates among children

AMARILLO- Low literacy rates has one medical branch launching a new program to help local children succeed in school.

A handful of parents will admit they simply don't have the time to frequent libraries and bookstores with their children.

But what if the library could be brought to you?

The Texas Tech Health and Sciences Center says they are now able to do just that.

In lieu of lollipops and candy, the next time your child goes for a check-up at Texas Tech, they'll be handed another type of gift.

"The nurses give the books out at the beginning of the visit so parents can look at the books with their child," Doctor Shannon Herrick with Texas Tech said.

It's all part of a program launched this week to help boost literacy rates.

"One third of the babies who start kindergarten are not actually ready to start at the kindergarten level," Doctor Muhammad Uddin with Texas Tech said.

According to TTUHSC, as students advance in school, many begin to fall behind in reading.

They cite data showing that by the time a child enters first grade, nearly 90 percent of students are reading below expected literacy levels.

"With financial difficulties in the economy right now, a lot of families just don't have the funds to go and buy books," Herrick said.

Stacy Clopton Yates with the Amarillo Public library can't stress enough the importance of reading.

"Studies have show time and time again that children who are read to on a regular basis do better when they start school," she said.

With the help of the national non-profit organization "Reach Out and Read" and local donations, Texas Tech physicians say they'll hand out a free age appropriate book to each child between the ages of six months and five years.

"There's really no age a child is too young to read to," Yates said.

So whether it's listening to a story at the library or reading at the doctors office, access to books may be just what the doctor ordered.

Texas Tech says they are always looking for volunteers to read to children in the waiting room.

If you'd like to help out, call 354.5546.