BALTIMORE (WJZ)—More of Maryland’s health centers may soon be giving out free books to their young patients.

As Christie Ileto explains, the Reach Out and Read Program is expanding thanks to federal dollars.

Three out of 10 low-income children in Maryland are not ready to enter kindergarten. That’s what the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

Erica Flood is making sure her 18-month-old son is not part of that statistic.

“Reading the books has made a big difference,” Flood said. “He’s learned some great vocabulary words. I know that he understands the words. I was saying ‘shake.’ He can shake something.”

Flood’s son, Christopher, gets free books every time he goes to the doctor through MD-AAP’s Reach Out and Read Program.

Thursday, officials announced the program is expanding with a $1.4 million grant.

At Total Health Care Center, Dr. Cecilia Hall-Carrington says books are flying off the shelves.

“The children love the books. They look forward to receiving the books. Sometimes when they come in for sick visits, they’re asking for the books,” Hall-Carrington said.

Right now 52 health clinics in Maryland participate in the program.

Officials expect 18 more to come on board to reach 75,000 more of Maryland’s kids.

Total Health Care in Baltimore is one of many health centers that participates in the program, and with the new federal funding, the MD-AAP says it can now help more of Maryland’s children.

“The reason for the expansion is that we really just weren’t reaching as many children as we could, and there are still many children who grow up ill prepared to learn,” said Dr. Eric Levey, MD-AAP.

And for Flood, one book a day for Christopher means he’ll be prepared for school.

“Just having a library in your home makes it better for your kids to understand the importance of education,” she said.

The MD-AAP hopes to help 75,000 more of Maryland’s kids by 2015.


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