Dr. Tom Csanadi Brings Reach Out and Read Program To Los Alamos Pre-schoolers

Astrid Hengartner reads to Steven Yeamans as part of the Reach Out and Read program. Photo by Chris Clark/ladailypost.com
 
Dr. Tom  Csanadi (in back) and teen reader volunteers, from left, Astrid Hengartner, Jessica Allen. Alex Csanadi, Rachel Reynolds and Aletta Marciano. Photo by Chris Clark/ladailypost.com
 
By BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos pediatrician Dr. Tom Csanadi, affectionately known as Dr. Tom, is the first pediatric medical provider in New Mexico certified to incorporate the Reach Out and Read program into his private practice.

Reach Out and Read builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. Recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Reach Out and Read incorporates early literacy into pediatric practice, equipping parents with tools and knowledge to ensure that their children are prepared to learn when they start school. Reach Out and Read serves more than 4 million children and their families annually across the country.

Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based nonprofit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud into well-child visits. 

When a child aged six months to five years visits Dr. Tom’s office for a well-child visit, they receive an age appropriate book free of charge.

“It is truly rewarding to see the faces of even young infants light up when they are presented with an age-appropriate book,” Dr. Tom said. “I know they will get many miles out of just one book.”

Dr. Tom as given out 40 books so far. The books come from Scholastic Inc. and include Spanish-language editions.  

“I now it is a bit like preaching to the choir when talking about reading books to their kids with most of the families I see, but early intervention and literacy promotion are still very worthwhile topics to discuss with young parents,” Csanadi said. “If nothing else, this discussion encourages the parents and reinforces that what they are doing is the right thing. Early literacy, promoted in a safe, gentle and loving way also encourages the development of Critical thinking. In too many instances, our kids have lost the ability to think critically, which goes hand-in-hand with the loss of love of learning. I am certain the link between early literacy and critical thinking is a very strong one.”

Research bears this out, he said. The evidence base of 15 peer-reviewed research studies has shown that during the preschool years, children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These early foundational language skills help start children on a path of success when they enter school.

Another component of the program will be read-together groups from ages 2-3 and 4-5. Volunteer high school age students will read with and to the children and interact with them in a fun way that promotes reading.

“Pre-schoolers love interacting with older kids and it’s great for the teens to see the adoration on the faces of the little kids,” Dr. Tom said.

Sessions are around 20-30 minutes and are currently conducted at Dr. Tom’s office at 3600 C-1 Trinity Dr., in Los Alamos.

Dr. Tom is parterning  with the JJAB  program to recuit teen readers. This is a low-stress, fun volunteer opportunity with a fairly low time commitment. Those interested in volunteering may contact him 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at 505.662.9200 or doctortom@drtomchildhealth.com.  

Parents interested in finding out about having their child participate in reading groups should also contact Dr. Tom’s office.

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