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Promoting literacy among area children

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Amarillo, TX - Many children in our area don't have access to books.

But we're told reading can make a significant difference.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center launched the "Reach Out and Read" program last April to promote literacy among children.

The success they've seen so far is now allowing the program to expand.

Terri Taylor says her grandson is the highlight of her life.

That's why she knows reading to him now, will provide benefits he can use in the future.

"I think the earlier the better, the earlier you get started reading to them and you know even interacting with them the better off they are. The more they want to learn," says Terri Taylor, grandmother.

Each time a child within 6 months to five years old comes to the pediatrics clinic for a well-visit, they receive a free book.

They've already given out more than 4,000 books in our area and they plan to give out thousands more.

"So a lot of times when they don't have those books, then at age four and five when they're going into pre-school or kindergarten, they don't know their alphabet and they are unaware of their colors. Those are kind of the building blocks that teachers love to have for children so they are more successful when they are teaching them how to read," says Dr. Shannon Herrick, pediatrics, TTUHSC.

During the well-visit doctors and nurses teach parents about the importance of reading.

"In the beginning we teach parents to just point out objects; this is a ball, this is a cup, colors and those sorts of things. That will usually help the child say those things," says Dr. Shannon Herrick, pediatrics, TTUHSC.

The Pediatrics Department is also currently in the process of remodeling their waiting area to make it more reader friendly.