The Link Between Early Childhood Literacy and Health

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More than 500 grantmakers gathered March 7 – 9 at the annual Grantmakers in Health Philanthropy conference in Baltimore. There were a series of workshops centered around the conference’s theme: Health and Equity for All. At one of the workshops, Reading for Life: Early Childhood Literacy and Health, several grantmakers and health advocates spoke about the importance of literacy for children and the significant social and health issues that result from illiteracy. We interviewed one of the panelists, Barry Zuckerman, MD, about his opinion on the issue.

Dr. Zuckerman is the Joel and Barbara Alpert professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine and chief of pediatrics at Boston Medical Center. He is an internationally recognized leader in child health and development; has more than 200 scientific publications and has edited numerous books, including multiple editions of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: A Primer for Primary Care. Among a number of innovative programs around child health, Dr. Zuckerman helped develop Reach Out and Read, an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.