On the Same Page: Reach Out and Read Program impacts lives in Reedsburg

Reedsburg Public Library staff

From left are Cari Ritter, program manager for Reach Out and Read's Southwestern WI Region; Jess McCarlson, youth services librarian at the Reedsburg Public Library; Carey Craker, marketing and volunteer services associate at Reedsburg Area Medical Center; Jana Burg, RAMC volunteer; and Dr. Joanna Laukant of RAMC. (Submitted photo)

Recently, Reedsburg’s Reach Out and Read program was highlighted in a newsletter and blog post by the statewide Reach Out and Read organization. The Reedsburg site is nearing a 10 year anniversary of encouraging early literacy in the community.

Reach Out and Read is a nationwide program in which medical practitioners communicate to parents the importance of reading at routine pediatric checkups. The Reedsburg program got its start when former RPL Assistant Library Director Kris Houtler heard about the program in 2012 at a library conference. Houtler soon connected with Joanna Laukant, family practice physician at Reedsburg Area Medical Center, Jodie Molitor, the RAMC volunteer coordinator at the time, and Heidi Feller, a community activist for literacy and children. On Nov. 1, 2014, Reedsburg Area Medical Center became an official Reach Out and Read site.

For the past nine years, at well-child checkups, RAMC professionals have spoken with parents about the importance of reading to their child, and have presented the child a free age-appropriate book. The books are given at yearly check-ups starting with 6 months and going through 5 years of age.

Reedsburg Public Library’s Youth Services librarian chooses the books for the program, which are purchased with funds from the RAMC Foundation.

Since implementing Reach Out and Read in 2014, RAMC has provided more than 15,000 books at pediatric check-ups. In 2022, it had 1,866 well child visits and “prescribed” 1,700 books.

Laukant remarks, “I am an advocate (of the program) because it is so obvious that reading with kids is important to not only their learning to read, but also their social development and even their fine motor skills.”

Jess McCarlson has represented the library for the past few years.

She notes that, “there are people at RAMC that reach the lives of children and their families that don’t know the library exists. Knowing that, and it being a goal of mine both personally and professionally to improve the lives of children through literature, the partnership means a lot to me.”

In other RPL Youth Services news, astronomer John Heasley will make an appearance at the Pioneer Log Village (7882 Highway 23) on Tuesday, Oct. 24 for Family Night, as weather permits. The group will meet near the picnic shelter. Other museum buildings will not be open. Be sure to bring coats, blankets and flashlights as needed. From 6 to 6:45 p.m., families with children of all ages can enjoy a PJ storytime complete with songs, and crafts. At 6:45 a light snack will be provided for all ages, at which time, families with young children will depart and families with tweens and teens can come enjoy a guided viewing of the night sky with Driftless Stargazing’s John Heasley.

If you have questions about any library service or program call the library at 608-768-7323 or email info@reedsburglibrary.org.

Correction to last week’s article

On Oct. 15, 2023, The Library did not host Simply Sax, as previously stated.

The Library would like to thank The McCarter Davis Group for providing the wonderful music at our library open house on Sunday, Oct. 15.