Summer is here and what better way to start off this season of sun, fun and hopefully some relaxing time spent reading than by attending a literacy event in your area? Check out the information below for local Wisconsin events happening in June and July. If you don’t see an event in your area, be sure to check out your local library’s website as they often have many summer reading programs for both kids and adults.
Please note: use arrows below table to scroll to the right for more information.
Summer Reading Kick Off Festival
Southwest Library 7979 38th Ave Kenosha, WI
5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Western Wisconsin Health Community Open House Celebration
Western Wisconsin Health 1100 Bergslien St Baldwin, WI 54002
This article was originally published by the Cap Times on April 23, 2018.
Recently, I encountered a new-to-Wisconsin mother and toddler who had left behind a not-so-good environment. As we established trust with one another, it came out that she was concerned about her child’s mild speech delay. The upheaval in their lives meant they hadn’t been able to find a primary care clinic and schedule his regular checkups yet. What could I do that might offer some immediate benefit for them?
As many know, I do a lot of work around early literacy promotion. In the last few weeks, there have been two relevant, notable studies released in this field. The first article is a meta-analysis — a combining of several studies together — showing interventions in parent-child shared reading have clear benefits, not just to the child’s language and literacy skills (we’ve known this for some time), but also psychosocially. There were better social and emotional skills and improved behavior in the children. Less expected was the benefit to parents, who had less stress, less anxiety, and greater confidence in their ability to parent.
The second study was on the Video Interaction Project (created by an NYU friend and colleague, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn). It uses video recording of a parent playing and reading with their child, followed by watching the recording together with a parenting coach who points out notable moments in the interaction. The researchers found decreases in child aggression, hyperactivity, and difficulty with attention.
These both support the value of working on early literacy skills, the foundation of the almost-30-year-old Reach Out and Read program, which makes discussion about early literacy an integral and routine part of checkups in early childhood. (Note: I am the founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin, and serve on the national board.)
However, I’d like to point out that these studies emphasize a critical element that’s not always present in the countless literacy programs out there. While you may view Reach Out and Read as a child literacy program, it’s really secretly a parenting program: a program designed to gently and collaboratively support strong shared reading between a parent and a child.
I don’t object to programs that bring high-quality books into a child’s home, but that emphasis is often misplaced; the book itself does little if handed to a child without any other interaction. A child learns the magic and power of reading only when a loving, nurturing, responsive caregiver (usually a parent, but could be anyone) reads aloud with them. A book that sits on the shelf is useless — it only does its magic when open in the hands of a parent and child reading together.
Equally important is a parent who knows how to read effectively to a young, squirmy toddler, a technique known as dialogic reading. Simply reading at a child doesn’t work for a child with a naturally short attention span. Knowing how to read with them and interact is an important learned skill. Merely providing books accomplishes only part of the job — supporting parenting confidence is absolutely essential.
It’s not just about the books. It’s about the act of reading together. A book without a caring adult…is just a book.
The key point: Parents benefit most when we offer clear modeling, coaching and encouragement. It’s not enough to say what to do; careful intentional skill-building is crucial for success. This explains the incredible outcomes seen from high-quality home visiting programs, for example. So question projects and recognize that they are not all the same. Ask yourself if they merely provide resources or whether they are building capabilities or capacities in families
So what of the family I encountered? I took the board book we had given him and pointed out her child’s brief interactions with the book. Then I modeled talking about illustrations and I reassured her that his turning away quickly was just his normal short attention span. Finally, I complimented her on her good parenting when she described how he would bring a book to her and “ask” to be read to.
She beamed with pride. And that’s how I knew we were doing right by her.
Holly Storck-Post, a Youth Services librarian from Madison Public Library recently visited clinicians and staff at UW Health’s 20 South Park Street location. Holly shared information with clinic staff about library programming and ways librarians engage families around early literacy.
Madison Public Library gives families information that is very similar to what Reach Out and Read (ROR) providers give at well-child visits. The librarians share ways to build early literacy skills by telling parents to talk, sing, read, write and play with their kids. They provide encouragement to parents and offer practical advice. Through their free high-quality programming, librarians model reading aloud for parents and show how to engage children of all ages with books.
Hearing this messaging in two different environments is important for parents. Not only are parents hearing from their child’s medical providers that early literacy is crucial to brain development, but they also learn this during activities at the library. When two organizations in different sectors are promoting early literacy, it makes sense to develop a collaboration.
Benefits of library collaboration
ROR Wisconsin encourages clinics to collaborate with their local libraries. These partnerships have benefits for both the clinic and the library. Clinics can benefit from library staff by:
Helping to create literacy-rich environments throughout the clinic
Coordinating reading times in the waiting room with volunteer readers
Collecting gently-used book donations for the clinic
Acting as partners on grant applications
Suggesting new book titles or helping with book selection
However, clinics are not the only ones who benefit from this collaboration. Libraries benefit from partnering with medical providers who:
Encouraging families to visit the library and getting a free library card
Sharing information about free library events and programming suitable for all ages
Assisting libraries in their outreach efforts to families who have not been library users in the past
UW Health’s 20 South Park Street Clinic does a great job collaborating with and promoting their local library. Information about library hours, events and programming is posted in the waiting room. Stacks of free Kidspages (a seasonal publication from the library highlighting children’s programming and reading tips) are available for families to take home.
This clinic has also created a wonderful literacy-rich environment with posters, gently-used books and a children’s reading area. Twice per week, the clinic has volunteers who read aloud to kids (and model ways to engage squirmy toddlers) while they wait for their doctor’s appointment.
While UW Health 20 South Park Street is a pediatric clinic they also recognize the importance of adult literacy. Information is posted about local resources for adults who may be struggling with their own literacy challenges. Magazines for adult readers are available for waiting parents. Seeing a parent read signals to the child that reading is important and can increase the child’s desire to read too.
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin (ROR) is excited to have been chosen by Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) as their spring membership drive’s thank you gift. When you make a monthly pledge of $10 or more to WPR, you are eligible to select the ROR thank you gift, which provides three new, high quality and developmentally appropriate books for young children throughout Wisconsin. The drive runs from Tuesday through Saturday this week.
4 reasons why you should donate this week:
ROR Wisconsin programs work with kids ages 6 months to 5 years. Providing books during this time delivers the most impact because it’s when their brains are growing most rapidly! 95% of the brain is developed by age 6.
Support medical providers as they build parents’ skills by talking about practical ways to read aloud with their kids and early literacy’s impact on future development.
ROR Wisconsin’s impact is statewide so the books you buy will help communities throughout Wisconsin.
WPR typically spends 10% of your donation on thank you gifts. By selecting the ROR thank you gift, WPR is only spending 6.7% of your donation. This means more of your money stays with WPR to help support high quality radio programming.
Interested in making a pledge? Click here. Thank you.
To learn more about ROR Wisconsin and the impact of our work, please visit our website.
Reach Out and Read (ROR) has been one of the most fun and helpful additions to our pediatric practice at Prevea Health. The response from families and children who are receiving our books at their visits is so overwhelmingly positive. We wanted to work on even more ways to integrate this program, not only into our health centers, but also into our community.
Prevea Health has sponsored a children’s play area at Bay Park Square Mall in Green Bay for a few years. This play area is partially enclosed, with little slides and play pieces for kids to climb on. In brainstorming ways to best utilize that space, we felt it would be a great place to expand our messaging about the importance of families reading aloud with their children. Not only would we get to have fun interactions with children in the community, but also we would have the chance to promote the importance of early literacy promotion and model engaging reading behavior.
Prevea Pediatrics and the mall tried to find a way to incorporate story telling along with play time. Knowing how active children can be and that sometimes sitting still for a story is a challenge, we decided it would be a good idea to add some structured play to these events. This would give the children a chance to get their wiggles out before the story. Then, we could settle right in the middle of the play area to read several books.
Prevea Read and Play
We decided to call the event Prevea Read and Play, featuring our pediatricians or child life specialists reading books for the storytime portion. I find it important for the pediatricians to participate in the reading, in part, because it’s just fun to do, but also because I think it magnifies the message of how important reading is when parents see a doctor taking time out of their day to read to children. It also takes us out of the clinical setting and more into the real world of these families and shows them again that reading is a key part of childhood development. I also feel it’s important for children to know that reading is fun and exciting, so this is one more way to keep them interested in new stories.
As of now, this is a monthly program and the community response has been very positive. I participated in our most recent story time in March, around the time of Dr. Seuss Week. After doing some movement activities with the children at the play area, I read two Dr. Seuss stories to about a dozen children of various ages. Some of them had heard the stories before and were eager to chime in about trying Green Eggs and Ham or capturing Thing 1 and Thing 2. We were also able to take a moment to talk about trying different foods because you just might like them, like at the end of Green Eggs and Ham. I was very impressed with the children’s level of attention during my reading. They were all very engaged, even the younger ones who may not have been as interested in these longer stories.
The parents also seemed to enjoy watching storytime and taking a break from chasing their children around the play area. Some of the people attending this Read and Play were repeat visitors who knew about the storytime, but many happened to be passing by and stopped or were pleasantly surprised when they came to play.
After we finished reading, our child life specialist led the children on a fun scavenger hunt through the play area to get them up and moving again. They were able to find various objects like a teddy bear or a stethoscope. Then, they each were rewarded with a certificate and a ROR bookmark to finish up our Prevea Read and Play event. Literature was also available for the parents regarding the ROR program and our Prevea Pediatricians.
Overall, it was a very fun morning at the mall and another great way to expand reading farther into our community. I do think seeing reading in action from a physician sends a great message to our families and I am glad ROR has given us even more encouragement to send that message.
With more than 210 Reach Out and Read (ROR) programs statewide our three staff, plus our medical director, stay busy. Whether we are visiting clinics, fundraising, giving presentations or assisting in building community partnerships, we are committed to promoting early literacy throughout Wisconsin.
ROR Wisconsin is a state affiliate of the national ROR organization. Since 2010, our office has helped launch more than 155 programs. We help clinics start their program, provide ongoing support (fundraising and technical assistance), quality assurance and books. However, working with clinics is just one piece of what we do.
Karin Mahony, MEd, MSW, Project Manager
Karin Mahony, our project manager, oversees all aspects of our work and is our resident fundraiser. Working with staff in our foundation office, she applies for grants, meets with potential and current funders, searches for new funding opportunities and provides book support to clinics in Wisconsin. If you have ever been to one of our annual meetings and had the chance to attend her fundraising breakout session, you will quickly learn why she has been so successful over the last seven years. Karin knows it is more than raising money, it is about building relationships with donors and organizations. She tells the story of ROR Wisconsin in a compelling and motivating way. “When I first started at ROR Wisconsin I had enough funds for my salary and some for clinics, everything else I had to fundraise for.” Our ability to grow our team while also becoming the seventh largest affiliate in the country, is proof of her success.
Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, Medical Director
Dipesh Navsaria is many things; a pediatrician, occasional children’s librarian, associate professor of pediatrics at UW Health’s School of Medicine and Public Health, child health advocate and founding medical director of ROR Wisconsin. Regardless of all these roles, on a weekly basis Dr. Navsaria travels around the state and country giving presentations about the importance of reading for brain development. He is a tireless advocate and promoter of our work and one of the reasons we believe our number of participating clinics has risen so quickly. He engages, motivates and educates people about how setting aside time each day to read aloud will have a positive, lasting impact. For these presentations, he directs all honorariums to ROR Wisconsin, which provides us with unrestricted funds we can use for program supplies and special projects.
Amber Bloom, MSW, CAPSW, Project Coordinator
Amber Bloom, joined our team in January 2017. Amber works in the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin Milwaukee office and assists clinics in the eastern part of the state. She conducts site visits, helps clinics wanting to develop new programs and manages our quality assurance efforts. She analyzes and prepares data from the parent literacy orientation survey to share with participating clinics. The purpose of this survey is to show any change in parents’ literacy behaviors after their clinic starts a ROR program. This data is then shared with clinics at site visits to show their impact within the community.
Amber’s background is in child welfare and she says, “I really appreciate the aspect of prevention that ROR provides. It offers families the opportunity to thrive through creating a nurturing environment at home, building parent skills and getting children ready for success in school. I’m glad to have a part in making those things happen.
Alex Rogers, Project Coordinator
Alex Rogers, joined the ROR team in January 2016 and works with clinics in the central part of the state, assisting with the application process and providing ongoing support. She also manages our marketing and communications, particularly with the launch and operation of this blog. She oversees our social media posts, annual program update and email campaigns. Each fall, she plans and organizes the annual meeting as an opportunity for ROR clinics and early literacy advocates to come together for education and networking. Alex enjoys working for ROR Wisconsin because it combines her love of reading and desire to help improve everyday life for children and families.
ROR Wisconsin is the early literacy initiative of Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, which is affiliated with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Being part of this larger organization not only provides us with infrastructure funding, but support in communications, graphic design, website, data analysis and strategic planning. All this allows our staff to devote the majority of our time to the programmatic needs of our clinics.
Imagine yourself an elderly woman just diagnosed with diabetes. Or a new parent whose baby was born with a metabolic disorder. Or a recent immigrant suffering from a serious workplace injury. Then imagine how you would feel when you hear words like A1C, phenylketonuria or laceration.
Being sick or getting injured is bad enough. You don’t need the additional stress of not really understanding what’s wrong or how it can be fixed. The best way to have a great health care experience is to ensure patients leave confidently knowing what they need to do and why.
That is what health literacy is all about. Patients get lots of information—often when they are least able to absorb it. That information may be the bridge or the barrier to better health.
Health literacy is much more than understanding words. It is knowing where to get good information, what that information means and how to use the information to make the best decisions.
Who has low health literacy?
Some population groups are more at risk. But the real answer is “everyone.” Even people usually confident understanding health information can have low health literacy at times. I’m sure you can remember a time when you had trouble understanding health information because you were very sick, under a lot of stress or taking medications that affected your concentration. I always remember the time when my wife was in the emergency room with intense pain. A strong pain pill made her feel much better. The doctor came in and explained what was going on. But not five minutes after he left, my wife turned to me and asked, “When will the doctor get here?” The pain pill had dropped her health literacy to near zero.
We can’t tell who has low health literacy by looking. And they’re not likely to tell us. That’s why at Wisconsin Health Literacy we advocate the universal precautions approach. Just like using gloves and masks in the clinical setting, universal precautions in health literacy means taking action to minimize risk for everyone. Communicate in a way that everyone understands. Some people think this is dumbing down information and is a disservice to patients. The real disservice to patients is giving them information they can’t understand. Evidence shows even highly literate people prefer simple communications.
Whose responsibility is it to improve health literacy?
Everyone: the patient, the provider and the health care system.
All of us are patients, too. As patients we have responsibility to ask when we don’t understand. But too often we don’t—whether because of language issues, cultural differences or to avoid feeling shame. In one study, during an office visit the physician on average said four words patients didn’t understand. When asked why they didn’t ask what the words meant, most patients said, “I didn’t want to feel stupid.” Health care providers must take an active role in making sure their patients understand by learning and using proven techniques, such as plain language and the Teach Back method. Health care systems need to set policies and dedicate resources to support these techniques.
How many are affected by low health literacy?
We know from research that of every 10 adults, nine of them have difficulty understanding health information. Three of them are at the lowest levels of health literacy. They may have trouble completing health forms, communicating symptoms, managing chronic illness or understanding what to do when they leave the hospital or clinic.
These patients are more frequently readmitted to the hospital because they don’t take medications or follow self-care instructions the way they should.
Communication about medications
Medication directions are especially troubling. Wisconsin Heath Literacy is working with pharmacies to make prescription medication labels easier to understand. In a recent survey, 1 in 4 respondents said they had taken a medication wrong because they were confused about the directions. They also shared shocking stories, such as:
“The medication was oxycodone 5mg/5ml. The directions were to take 1ml every 4 hours as needed for pain. The mother gave her child 5ml because she thought the strength of the medication was supposed to be the dose she gave her child.”
“My grandmother accidentally took 3 times the dose of a medication for about 4 days. The label stated: take 1 1/2 pill twice daily. The instructions meant to take ½ of a pill 2 times a day. The way the instructions were typed on the label led Grandma to believe she should take 1 and ½ pills 2 times a day. She should have taken 1 pill per day, but she was taking 3 pills per day.”
Wisconsin Health Literacy offers workshops on how to use medications and you wouldn’t believe how common it is for one of the participants to say they take all their pills for the day at one time because they can’t remember how many they’re supposed to take when. Misunderstanding about medications often means the patient won’t get the full benefit. But, at worst, the results can be catastrophic.
Why is health literacy important?
People with low health literacy, sadly, are more likely to die earlier. They typically have poorer health knowledge, increased hospital and emergency department visits and higher health care costs.
Health literacy is not a passing fad. It is a lens through which we view all health care communications. The first step is to become aware of the problem. Then take action. Start a health literacy team. Arrange for training on health literacy, get a refresher course on how to use the Teach-Back method or make a plan to review written communications for plain language.
Call us if we can help. Health Literacy practices are quick and inexpensive to implement. They dramatically improve the chances that you and those around you can fully understand and take action on critical health information and services. For more information, contact Steve Sparks, firstname.lastname@example.org, (608) 257-1655 ext. 2, or visit WisconsinHealthLiteracy.org.
In our continuing effort to showcase local Reach Out and Read (ROR) programs and successful community collaborations around early literacy promotion, Sen. Terry Moulton was invited to visit Marshfield Clinic-Chippewa Falls Center Pediatric clinic on Feb. 7, 2018. During the visit, Sen. Moulton read two books aloud to a group of preschoolers, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” and “Pete the Cat.”
Also attending the event was Chris Seelen of Eau Claire, former ROR Wisconsin Advisory Council member and current Chippewa Valley ambassador. United Way of Greater Chippewa Valley’s executive director Jan Porath and Director of their Successful Children’s Network, Kari Stroede, also joined in the fun. The United Way of Greater Chippewa Valley shares a commitment to early literacy promotion and provides ongoing book support to Marshfield clinic’s area ROR programs.
After the book reading, Sen. Moulton participated in a mock well-child visit led by Dr. Robert Bullwinkel. During the well-child visit, Sen. Moulton learned how the ROR intervention fits seamlessly into preventative visits, how providers give advice and guidance to parents on signing, talking, playing and reading with their youngest children and how providers can assess a child’s developmental milestones just by watching how they interact with a book.
After the exam, Sen. Moulton spoke to the media about the importance of early literacy promotion. “It is very important to start reading to children at a very young age,” said Sen. Moulton. “I can see a difference in my grandchildren who have been read to regularly.” He also said he was surprised by the growth of the ROR Wisconsin, which now includes 210 clinics.
One of those programs, Marshfield Clinic-Chippewa Falls has participated in ROR for 19 years. Marshfield Clinic system has 18 clinics throughout the state with ROR programs. Since launching their ROR program, the Chippewa Falls Pediatric Clinic has provided literacy guidance and advice to countless parents and have distributed more than 54,000 books. That’s a lot of bedtime stories!
ROR Wisconsin hosts three to four legislative/ community leader visits a year. Our Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin AmeriCorp Health Member works to coordinate these visits which are designed to engage community and legislative leaders about early literacy and children’s health. The visits also provide advocacy skill development for medical providers, who talk to legislators about their early literacy promotion efforts and any unique issues facing their communities.
ROR Wisconsin does not currently receive funding from the State of Wisconsin or federal government. Instead our funding is made up of contributions from health systems, grants and donations. ROR Wisconsin provides partial book support to eligible clinics. In 2016, ROR Wisconsin provided more than $48,000 in book funds to 68 clinics across the state.
Eight clinic systems in the state currently fund all book purchases for their participating clinics: Access Community Health Centers, Aspirus, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Gundersen Health System, Monroe Clinic, UW Health and Watertown Regional Medical Center.
ROR Wisconsin is grateful for the opportunity to organize these visits and bring together state leaders and the medical community.