Health Literacy Month at Littleton Regional Healthcare
October 17, 2019
Littleton, NH - October is Health Literacy Month. In its 20th year, Health Literacy Month is a time to raise awareness about the importance of understandable health information. Reading for understanding and health are closely linked. Research shows that adults who understand and are able to act on health information have better health outcomes.
Littleton Regional Healthcare (LRH) recognizes that the foundation to having good health literacy skills begins early in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement in 2014 about early literacy. They recommend that parents and caregivers begin reading to children at birth, and continuing at least through kindergarten. Sharing books with young children strengthens the foundation children need when they enter kindergarten and begin to learn language skills. Gale Medical Library has been running LRH's two early literacy programs for 15 years. LRH shares a book with each child born at the Hospital and with children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years who come to LRH's Pediatrics practice for well-child visits.
Reading proficiency by the time a child is in third grade is the most significant predictor of high school graduation and career success. Sadly, only one of three third graders read at grade level.[i] Through grade three, children are learning to read. But starting in fourth grade, children use reading to learn other subjects. Mastering reading becomes a critical piece in our children's ability to keep up with the other students. Children who reach fourth grade without being able to read at grade level are more likely to drop out of high school. Children who do not finish high school reduce their chances for family and career success. Adults with poor literacy skills are less healthy than adults with good literacy skills.
Littleton, NH is a special place. The Littleton Public Library is right in the middle of its downtown. This community gem has many story hours and programs to introduce reading to babies and children of all ages. We are also very lucky to have the Little Village Toy and Book Shop. Books make great gifts for children.
Please join Littleton Regional Healthcare in doing all we can to get our children ready to read. How can parents and caregivers help? One of the ways children learn language is by hearing the spoken voice. It is important to make a habit of reading to children, and making it something enjoyable. Reading to children sends such a powerful message! Children think their parents are the most important people in their world. Your voice is the most important voice your child will ever hear. Take every opportunity to talk, sing, and read with your child to share the gift of your voice. Give your children the best chance at success. For more information about Health Literacy and LRH's early literacy programs, contact Anne M. Conner, Director, Gale Medical Library at 603-444-9564.
 (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Available online at nces.ed.gov).