Rock Hill mom Randi Taylor got her boys excited about going to the doctor for a well checkup when they learned they would receive a book to read.

During the family’s first Rock Hill Pediatrics visit with Dr. Martha Edwards, Taylor recalls, “she gave each of the boys a book; they were there at the time for well visits. And she took the time to sit down and read to each of them.”

The boys, then ages 1 and 2, loved the books they received, and they were thrilled that their pediatrician sat down and read to them, Taylor said. Taylor was pleased that the books were tailored to where each boy was developmentally.

The Early Learning Partnership’s Reach Out and Read program provides the books that physicians distribute to children ages birth to 5 during well child visits at 11 pediatric practice partners across York County. ROR also provides training to physicians as part of its mission to promote reading and bonding.

Taylor said her oldest son received a book about opposites, like hot and cold, big and small. 

“He absolutely loved the book, and it became our favorite night time story book,” she said. “He at the time couldn’t tell me if something was big or small, or if something was cold. And he liked that someone else read it to him first.”

Her younger son received a book called Brave LIttle Monkeys. “It was about emotions, like being ok to cry, and kind of going through your emotions.”

Through ELP’s collaboration with the national ROR office and its ROR-Carolinas affiliate, ELP provides children’s books that are diverse and age- and language-appropriate. ELP also supports the medical team, which promotes parent-child bonding, early brain development, and a love of learning in young children and families.

Statistics show the program is having an impact.

In 2020, for example, 20,318 books were distributed in York County through ELP’s ROR; 99 percent of the medical professionals gave out books at well child visits and 95 percent of them offered guidance to families on reading and bonding.

Taylor said she and her husband read to the boys at least every night at bedtime. The family has a cabinet filled with children’s books, and each of the boys gets to choose a book to read before bed.

She said that when the boys were born, the family lived in another South Carolina city, and Reach Out and Read was not available to them. They started going to Rock Hill Pediatrics earlier this year after moving to Rock Hill.

“I’m just really impressed with it,” she said about Reach Out and Read. “We didn’t have that before, and it was nice to get them excited about reading, and then to have something to take home, and that the physician took the time to read to them.”

Taylor said she believes the program can make a difference for families.

“I definitely see it helping the family, because it makes sure we have that reading time every night,” she said. “We sit down and read a book because they want to, and they want to specifically read these books.”