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Regent Reads with CHKD

By Brett Wilson | August 4, 2014

Dr. Dionne Palmer.

On Tuesday, July 28, the Regent University Library completed its fourth year of the Regent Reads program, wrapping up the 2014 season. But the last day of the month-long summer program was dedicated to more than just engaging children's minds in a vibrant story hour: it was about helping children develop positive health and wellness habits.

For the final Regent Reads, the University Library partnered with the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD), bringing staff from the health system to share stories with the community's children and answer their questions about visits to the doctor.

"Having a doctor read a children's book about going to the doctor was entertaining for the kids who could admit their fears about shots in a safe place," said Dr. Sara Baron, dean of the University Library. "Allowing them to handle medical instruments, ask questions and receive stickers hopefully reduced anxieties about doctors."

LaVern Morris, the director for CHKD's Reach Out and Read (ROR) literacy program, understands that incorporating reading into a child's life at an early age aids the child's physical and mental well-being.

"It becomes as important as the child getting their immunizations," said Morris.

Morris' days are filled with supervising pediatricians and nurse practitioners involved in the ROR program, a task that is "near and dear" to her heart. She ensures that every child between the ages of six months and age five receives an age-appropriate book at their checkup. The doctors can then gauge a child's developmental milestones.

Dr. Dionne Palmer, who has been with CHKD for 18 years, knows full-well the importance of ROR in preparing her patients to become good learners. Apart from witnessing them anticipate the sounds that animals make in stories, and knowing she is playing an important role in the lives of the children at CHKD, her favorite part of her job is the families she serves.

"I've even seen some of my patients become parents now that I've been there long enough," said Palmer. "And I'm honored when they choose me to be their child's doctor because that makes me feel like I'm doing a pretty good job."

Baron explained that hand-in-hand, the fields of education and wellness make for well-rounded children&mdsah;the philosophy she hopes Regent Reads will continue next summer.

"Dr. Seuss said it best: 'The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go,'" said Baron. "We are delighted that so many families brought their children to Regent University this summer to read books about contemporary and biblical heroes."

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E-mail: mhughes@regent.edu



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