Books Boost Brainpower

Three children sitting and reading books together. Seal in right hand corner of picture that says books boost brainpower

Welia Health a proud supporter of literacy for the communities it serves.

Third graders at Mora/Ogilvie, Hinckley/Finlayson and Pine City Elementary Schools will receive a new book this February from Welia Health. February is known as I Love to Read Month and spotlights the importance of literacy. This crucial stage for 8–9-year-olds is when they transition from learning to read to reading to learn and it can impact their health literacy later on in life. In support of this initiative, Welia Health has distributed books to children in its communities for the past 6 years.

Why is literacy development important?

Students who do not master reading proficiency during this time are more likely to fall behind in other areas.1 As many skills begin with the basics of reading, proficiency is a high indicator for the child’s educational development throughout their schooling and beyond, even into health literacy. American Academy of Family Physicians defines Health Literacy as basic reading and numerical skills that allow a person to function in the healthcare environment2 and it is known to be one of the top indicators of positive health outcomes. Research also shows more than one-third of Americans have only basic or below basic health literacy.3 This deficit is associated with decreased ability to take medications properly, increased emergency department visits, more hospitalizations, and overall increased healthcare costs.4 

Welia Health and Reach Out and Read-Minnesota

In addition to book distribution to area third graders, Welia Health partners with Reach Out and Read Minnesota to get age-appropriate books into children’s hands at well-child visits from infancy to age 5. During the visit, the provider can assess how well the child is developing – physically, socially and emotionally.  “When a family engages in reading with their children, we notice a marked growth in the child’s communication ability as well as problem-solving and interpersonal intelligence,” says Dr. Donner, Welia Health Family Medicine Physician.

The Reach Out and Read Minnesota6 program implemented at Welia Health follows this model:

After age 5, children will have received 11 books with hopeful signs of improved language skills and a lifelong love of learning and books that builds a trusted relationship with their medical provider.

To advocate literacy, Welia Health participates in various reading activities from donating newspapers to Hinckley High School to reading to and distributing books to 3rd graders. Over the last 6 years, we have distributed thousands of books to our communities through these literacy programs. Before the pandemic hit Minnesota in 2020, Welia Health Pediatric Therapists read books in person to the 3rd-grade classes at the various schools. This year, 3rd graders will receive books suggested by their elementary school teachers and Welia Health recorded videos of the partial reading of each of the books so children can enjoy at home with their parents or caregivers.

Links to the YouTube Videos

2021 selections

Sources

1 Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters. A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. aecf.org.
2 Lauren Hersh, MD; Brooke Salzman, MD; Danielle Snyderman, MD. Health Literacy in Primary Care Practice. American Family Physician.
3 Kutner, Greenberg, Jin, & Paulsen, 2006
4 Berkman et al., 2011; Eichler, Weiser, & Brügger, 2009; Haun et al., 2015
5 The Children’s Reading Foundation
6 Reach Out and Read Minnesota