Monday, August 30, 2010

Story Rx: Read to your kids every day

Ok, after the heady drunken-ness of beginning my blog, I thought I'd follow up by starting a tradition: Story Prescriptions. And my first story prescription? Pledge to read to your children at least 10 minutes every day.

It doesn't sound like much, I know. Most of us already do it. Bedtime, bathtime, pottytime - we read. But do we do it religiously, every day? And do we keep doing it when our children become readers themselves?

This father and daughter, highlighted in the New York Times in March, kept up with this all the way through high school - and they called it "The Streak." And they didn't let anything - not high school parties, not trips away from home, not late night play rehearsals, break it.

Who'll join me? I call a nation-wide gathering of parents to participate in a "streak" of daily reading to our children!

What would such an act possibly do?

1. Promote a shared intergenerational vocabulary
2. Model a love of words and learning
3. Associate words and stories with attachment, love and closeness. Stories become not something enjoyed in isolation, but a shared experience.

It's these benefits that prompted my colleague and role model the pediatrician/writer Perri Klass to begin her organization Reach Out and Read: which promotes literacy by giving children free books at every pediatric visit and having doctors give "prescriptions for reading."

All I'm suggesting is that we pledge to continue daily reading well beyond baby and toddler-hood. That we read to our readers and non readers alike. Every day without fail.

We're reading Pippi Longstocking at our house, a good a role model as any for finding joy thinking outside the box.

Come on, parents, let's streak!


Here's a lovely coincidence, after I posted this, I saw that there's a great guest post on reading aloud (with a list of suggested books for older kids) on From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. Check it out!

One more correction, this time via Perri Klass herself - she didn't found Reach out and Read but inherited it from Robert Needlman, and then went on to expand the program to several locations!


  1. We are reading Rick Riordan's Red Pyramid at home. And both my kids are readers -- but we love our time together in the evenings. No TV, no interruptions. Just a story. Together.

  2. Ishan's 1st grade teacher told us an interesting statistic this past week at Open House..."If a child reads 20 minutes a day up through 6th grade, the child would have read an equivalent of 60 full days of school; whereas for a child who only read 4 minutes a night will have read an equivalent of 14 days of school!!!" I truly feel sad for some of my patients who aren't exposed to that love of reading by their parents/families.