RX: Building Early Literacy in Healthcare | BookSpring

RX: Building Early Literacy in Healthcare

dr-haslund-with-patient-720x460Nearly all families seek the support of a doctor or pediatrician when a child comes into their lives. This is a prime opportunity to introduce the importance of reading and access to books in the home to young families. During routine well-child visits from birth through age five, BookSpring supports literacy activities support the optimal language development in the child’s rapidly growing brain, and also help strengthen the social and emotional bonds between the child and the caregiver.

BookSpring makes this possible by providing a steady stream of books to participating healthcare providers, as well as tips for parents to stimulate family literacy practices. The result is more children being read aloud to at an earlier age, and being better prepared for school.

To find out more about these programs, contact BookSpringRx Director Rachel Elliott at rachel.elliott @ bookspring.org or (512) 472-1791 x 107.

Rx Programs


As part of an ongoing national effort to support pediatricians to promote early literacy, ReadWell promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud to support optimal child development. We also provide technical assistance and gently used books to participating sites in Central Texas.  BookSpring currently works with over 20 healthcare providers to provide:

  • New, age appropriate children’s books for distribution by pediatricians in well child visits;
  • Gently used books delivered for use in exam rooms between visits and waiting rooms;
  • A motivational prescription for reading and up-to-date information about free pre-school and adult literacy services;
  • Instruction for doctors and staff about best practices in pediatric literacy;
  • Ongoing evaluations of program quality with reports available;
  • Access to local staff and volunteers to support other needs on request.

Our ReadWell program is currently restricted to clinics that serve low income populations of at least 90% low income, that is families who are on CHiP, Medicaid, WIC, or no insurance at all.  This reflects a deep cost discount due to the generous philanthropic support of many generous individuals and agencies such as United Way of Greater Austin and The St. David’s Foundation.  Each year over 20,000 children are served by ReadWell. These children gain the lifelong benefits of being read aloud to and building home library from birth.

Pediatric Literacy Kits

The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that ALL doctors should be practicing pediatric literacy as part of primary care.

If you are outside of Central Texas or serving a mixed population of families, you can still participate in BookSpringRx.   We offer all the books and materials needed to run a pediatric literacy program in your practice on a monthly or quarterly subscription basis.  It’s easy, fast, and fun, and saves your practice the time and effort of selecting, printing, and ordering your own books and materials.  BookSpring books and materials are compatible with many programs, and contain unique messages and methods supported through research in pediatric literacy and health communication.   You can be a hero to families and improve your patient satisfaction scores, while helping your patients with the critical developmental milestones of early literacy.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

Rx Framework

  • Who do we reach? Children from birth to 5 years and their parents or caregivers
  • What do we do? Distribute new and used books, parent educational materials and assist medical professionals in pediatric literacy
  • Where does it happen? Clinics, community health centers, and doctor’s offices (mostly low-income serving)
  • When does it happen? During well-child visits and before appointments in waiting rooms with gently used books
  • Why does it work? We stimulate early brain development, pre-literacy skills, and change family behaviors around reading and reading aloud
  • How is it supported? Program fees, individual donations, grants, and volunteer time

Our programs are made possible by volunteer support on an ongoing basis, which community members and companies can apply for year-round.