MINNEAPOLIS (May 14, 2020) – Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, has been named medical director of Reach Out and Read Minnesota. The nonprofit program partners with medical clinics to improve early literacy and education outcomes by providing a free, age-appropriate book at every well-child visit from six months to 5 years old. Dr. Chawla has been involved with Reach Out and Read throughout her 18-year career at Children’s Minnesota.
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“We are thrilled for Dr. Chawla. She has been a long-time champion on the behavioral and developmental benefits of parents reading to their children,” said Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota. “Reading aloud strengthens family bonds, opens up a child’s imagination and can spark an interest that can set them on a trajectory for their life.”
As medical director, Dr. Chawla will partner with local champions to support the adoption of Reach Out and Read in clinics throughout Minnesota and be an advocate for early literacy and developmental issues. The program builds on the unique relationship between patients, their parents and medical providers at well child visits through the offering of a book to model prioritization of reading to develop critical early language, vocabulary and reading skills in children beginning in early infancy. The program is based on medical research and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“As families and schools address the challenges of COVID-19, the importance of reading with children becomes an even more critical aspect of what families can tangibly do to strengthen parent-child bonding and promote language development for kids,” said Dr. Chawla. “For families who are not able to experience receiving a book with Reach Out and Read in person in clinics due to COVID-19, other avenues such as high-quality e-books and sources for free books may be important resources to continue to advance literacy. Reach Out and Read is also creating a #ReadTogether YouTube playlist featuring stories read aloud by pediatricians and volunteers for families to use with their children.”
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About Children’s Minnesota
Children’s Minnesota is the seventh largest pediatric health system in the United States and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. An independent and not-for-profit system since 1924, Children’s Minnesota serves kids throughout the Upper Midwest at two free-standing hospitals, 12 primary and specialty care clinics and six rehabilitation sites. Children’s Minnesota is regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top children’s hospital.
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