Family Literacy & Great Books for Every Age – PediaCast 417

Show Notes


  • November is Family Literacy Month! Dr Alex Rakowsky and Dr Mary Ann Abrams visit the studio as we explore the many benefits of reading. We share tips for nurturing a child’s love of written stories and reveal our favorite books for babies, teens and all the ages in between. We hope you can join us!


  • Great Books for Every Age
  • Literacy
  • Reading



Great Books for Babies and Toddlers

Great Books for Preschoolers

Great Books for School-Age Kids

Great Books for Teens & Young Adults


Announcer 1: This is PediaCast.



Announcer 2: Welcome to PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from the campus of Nationwide Children's, here is your host, Dr. Mike.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Hello everyone, and welcome once again to PediaCast. It is a pediatric podcast for moms and dads. This is Dr. Mike, coming to you from the campus of Nationwide Children's Hospital. We are in Columbus, Ohio.

It is Episode 417 for October 25th, 2018. We're calling this one "Family Literacy & Great Books for Every Age."
I want to welcome everyone to the program.

So Family Literacy Day is just around the corner on November 1st. And some are designating the entire month of November as Family Literacy Month, which makes a lot of sense because traditionally, for many years now, November has been a month for writing. And, in particular, writing novels.

It's called "NaNoWriMo" which stands for "National Novel Writing Month."

And the reason behind that initiative is this, many folks have a novel inside of them. But what they lack is the discipline to sit down each and every day and to put words to paper.

So, many hopeful authors, for many years now, start the month of November with a blank white page and they commit to writing either a set number of words per day or they're going to set for a certain number of minutes or hours every day, and they trudge through to the month of November writing day in and day out.

Some make it through the month, others don't, novels are started, or they're trashed depending on how the writing process goes.
But the truth is, many published novelists got their start by participating in NaNoWriMo during some November of their past.
So November has traditionally been a month for writing.


It's also a month for not shaving, which I think is actually a tie-in with NaNoWriMo. Because if you're busy writing a novel, you know, who has time to trim their beard or their legs.

So that connection works, but another connection that works is Family Literacy Month. Because if you're going to write, you need people to read your work.

So in addition to writing, let's encourage literacy and reading in November.

Well here's the thing, I mean that's all well and good, but we really add encouraged reading every month of the year.

It is that important. Reading is beneficial to our mental health. It improves our physical health. For instance, did you know that reading can lower your blood pressure, keeps our brains young, it helps us in the classroom?

And I'm not just talking about reading textbooks. Reading stories and novels actually strengthens our brain's ability to think and remember.

Reading can boost your family health, your community health, so as you can tell I am completely jazzed about reading.

And when I heard November was Family Literacy Month, I knew I had to produce a podcast on the benefits of reading.

And then, I'm even more excited about this.

I wanted to take the opportunity to give you, the audience, some recommendations on my favorite books, for kids of all ages, from infants to young adults.
My kids are young adults now so we really encourage reading right from the get-go. And I just want to share with you some of the books that we shared with them along the way.

To help me with our literary discussion, I have invited the Pediatrics in Plain Language Panel back to the studio, Dr. Mary Ann Abrams and Dr. Alex Rakowsky.

They're both Primary Care Pediatricians who try to keep me rained in as we cover health literacy topics with terminology that parents can understand.

I mean, with every episode of PediaCast, I try really hard to keep things understandable regardless of your background. I know we have a lot to folks in the audience who know nothing about medicine. And we have a board-certified pediatrician in the audience as well.

So we try to explain things as we go. When the panel joins me, we really attempt to hold each other accountable.

And it's a sort of fun to crack each other when we slip up and use medical jargon that few people really understand, which doctors are prone to do because we forget that our patients and families are not born with the knowledge of all things related to health and wellness.

So Alex and Mary Ann will be here shortly. We'll consider the benefits of reading, how to get your child excited about books regardless of his or her age, and we'll consider barriers to reading, how to overcome them, and then again, my favorite part of the show, the three of us are going to share our favorite books for every age group from infants through young adults.
And let me tell you, that was actually a fun list to put together. Because from my recommendations, I consulted my wife and my now 21-year-old son, we scoured our bookcases and actually had a lot of fun revisiting books and stories that we haven't thought about since my kids were little.

So I'll share that list with you, our guests will share their list as well.

And we'll see how many of the books that we recommend are ones that your family already loves.

I suspect you also discover some you've never heard of, maybe some new literary treasure for your family, as we consider books for babies, toddlers, pre-preschoolers, school-aged kids, teens, and young adults.

And of course, I'll put links to those treasures, we won't bury them, in the show notes. I know that was really bad, over at Episode 417.

If you check the show notes, that will have a list to those book recommendations for you. That way, you can discover those gems for yourself.
Before we get to our guests, I want to mention the information presented in every episode of the show is for general educational purposes only. We do not diagnose medical conditions or formulate treatment plans for specific individuals.

So if you have a concern about your child's health, be sure to call your doctor and arrange a face to face interview and hand's on physical examination.

Also your use of this audio program subject to the PediaCast Terms of Use Agreement, which you can find at

Let's take a quick break and then I will be back to talk more about Family Literacy and Great Books for All Ages.

That's coming up right after this.




Our Pediatrics in Plain Language Panel joins us again this week. You recall it, Dr. Mary Ann Abrams is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University – College of Medicine and a pediatrician with the Hilltop Primary Care Center at Nationwide Children's.

And Dr. Alex Rakowsky, also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Ohio State and a pediatrician with Olentangy Primary Care at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Really appreciate that both of you joining us again.

Thanks for being here.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Thanks, Mike.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Hi Mike, Happy Health Literacy Month!

Dr. Mike Patrick: It is a Health Literacy Month in October, and November is just around the corner. And November 1st is a Family Literacy Day. And then some are suggesting the entire month of November to be Family Literacy Month.

And I mentioned in the intro, kind of goes along well traditionally, NaNoWriMo has been November, which is National Novel Writing Month.

So people, you know, who think they have a novel inside of them, dedicate themselves to sitting down every day to write on their novel. And if you have, if you're going to write a novel, you need people to read it.

So it kind of makes sense that literacy and novel writing would go along together in the same…

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: We used to lead the ice cream associated with this now, so we could all enjoy some sweets…


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Reading books in a cold weather.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes, yes. Exactly. Exactly.

So, let's start out with just this term "literacy," you guys are Pediatrics in Plain Language Panel, we like to talk in terms that everyone can understand.

And I know, when you think about literacy, you think about books. But I think some folks may be confused what exactly does that word "literacy" mean.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: So I, I want to broaden a little bit, so literacy really is knowledge.

So let's use football, we're in the middle of football season and we're at LSU, so that's all people are crowned here.

So literacy is just knowing something fairly well.

So if you have a literacy about football, you can understand it when you watch a game, kind of what's going on. And I'm bringing it from that perspective, because instead of making it, just a skill that you've gotten, literacy makes you knowledgeable enough that you can become comfortable at something.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes.


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And once you get that comfort, think you could enjoy it more.

So I like putting the comfort level into literacy because we kind of talk about this more further, you'll see that you need that comfort to kind of start bringing up some of the good news of reading.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely.

And that really kind of flows into then what health, that makes a lot of sense, then when we think about this term "Health Literacy," Mary Ann, what do we mean by that?

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Yes, Mike. Alex, I really like what you just said because when we talk about health literacy, when people first started talking about it, they really were grounded in reading. Like reading health words, and health documents, and materials.
But what that really means now is being able to find health information, be able to either read it or hear it and understand it, and then use it to actually make a decision, or take an action for your own health or for your family's health.
So I think you really tapped into something great there.

And that also generalizes to other kinds of literacy. You hear people talk about Health Insurance Literacy and Media Literacy.

And what it really means is having that knowledge, the ability to get that knowledge often through using reading, that other ways too, in order to use that area or participate in that area of your life.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And it goes beyond just understanding the definition of a word, but really understanding the concept behind that word so you could start to string concepts together and then come up with decisions.

And because you really do understand it, not just know the meaning. There's a deeper level there.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: There's a lot more emphasis on the technical term, the non-plain language term, it's actionability.

So you can ding me there if you want to, Mike, actionability…


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: But what that really means is being able to use that information to take an action or to stop doing something.

So, I doubt that we always like to talk about what is, what plain language means.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Tell us about that.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Yeah, that kind of leaves into it.
So instead of using the word like "actionability," I've been choosing the word like "use."

Finding the word that you need to use to convey a meaning so that people who need to know that information actually can understand it and use it.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And I mean, it's okay to still say the bigger word as long as that you explain what that means. Because then, you're also helping improve folks' vocabulary too.

But we always want to at least explain exactly what it is we mean or use terms that are, you know, it is easy to understand what we're talking about.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And that's a good point, too! Because if you have a health issue like diabetes or asthma or something more complicated, you're going to hear those technical words and those official words, so you need to hear those words and know what they mean, and then be able to break it down if you need to.


Dr. Mike Patrick: That all noisy breathing is not wheezing…


Dr. Mike Patrick: It's just an example. So this is exactly what wheezing is. When you hear a child wheezing, tell the parent, "Hey, that's wheezing! That's what we were talking about right there."

Alright, but I digress. So Alex, in terms of, then thinking about literacy in sort of the traditional reading books sense, how do reading and writing skills contribute to health literacy?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: So we can work in a little backwards here. If you look at the majority of handouts or information for parents to kind of look at about their children, they're going to be based on written knowledge or written sort of mechanisms.

So I finally looked up something about, let's say, psoriasis, picking a non-pediatric thing, not a con geriatric finding.

I'll go to, let's say, male clinic or some larger INH and find something about psoriasis, there's going to be a lot more about it in the written language, then there will be about videos.

And interview videos, you always have to have some kind of literacy to kind of see, is this video worth it or not.

So you almost see to have some kind of basis in reading and writing, to even get to some basic health information.
And I think it's an assumption about the health information people are still arrive at the certain level. But you need that even basic level to kind of figure out to see where we get comfortable with it.

And I work in a clinic, that's heavy immigrant population. So 50% of our families do not speak English. And I'll try to talk slowly or try to sort of say things in a way that makes sense for a family.

There is only so much a brain can absorb and if you're worried about your child, though hear a two or three thing, so you're still writing a lot of things down and that's where the reading and the writing skills.
I mean, you can you write it as simply as you want but as parents don't have comfort what you writing down, they may be missing, what you trying to say.

It's a necessary part of health literacy.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And the skills involved with reading and writing, we like to really get those start at a young age. And so early childhood literacy is going to be important.

What sort of things, Mary Ann, is early ability to read and write associated within on down the road?


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Well, it's kind of interesting. People think about literacy, they think about reading in books, but it's also important to realize that literacy and language, spoken words, and being able to speak and also to understand.
Those are really closely tied together.

And they develop in young children at a very early age and they develop together. And they develop in stages that happen as a baby grows from being a baby to a toddler to a preschooler to a school-age child and even older.
And in general, these skills develop in an expected order. Sometimes the one kind part of that develops faster than another. But in general, language and literacy are tied together.

And a couple of really important things are that they don't just develop in a child's brain that is sitting there, they develop in a social way, with interactions between mostly often parents, but other people who take care of and interact with a child, and that child.

So the key word there is the interaction, a child can hear a lot of words on TV but that's not a back and forth.

So the social exchange of words, because they're not going to read before they know what words are, is really the beginning of early childhood literacy.

And spoken language stimulates and helps that to grow in their brain and then that leads to this early skills associated with reading.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And those then translates. So the earlier the better you sort of build the foundation is really then going to also help with later academics, and with how well you perform in school, when you get into a college, your academic successes which can lead into career and jobs successes, and our ability to communicate within the family setting, you know, how healthy families communicate, go a long way to our mental health, and even our physical health and so.
Just so many realms and spheres of our life really begin right there with early childhood literacy, right?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: It is. There has been a lot of research looking at how quickly you can learn how to read and then school performance. That's, I think, a fairly well worked out and fleshed out set of research.

There's an interesting study that came out, I'm think in this month's Pediatrics, which is a big journal for pediatrics, that the spoken word, the more you know between 18 and 24 months of life, really had an impact on how you do up until 5th grade.

And the theory was that the fact that you're comfortable at, Mary Ann said, your comfortable sorting words that when you see it and writing, you already have a sort of initiation of that word.

And spoken language is part of health literacy and it was a beautifully-done study that actually showed. Yes, we need to push reading but you can start pushing language develop in a lot earlier as well. Because that's part of the whole cycle the brain scaffolding, language development.

Scaffolding is like, you know, putting all the bump we picked up.



Dr. Mike Patrick: Alright.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: I'd love that word scaffolding, but it's not a word that I heard very often until the last couple of years.

So, going to explain what we mean by that.

I think that's a really great metaphor.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: There's a lot of theories on learning on it, I worked of residents for a living.

Well I think, the majority of people now believe that the way you learn is to see things multiple times and you sort of build the base of some basic knowledge. And then you see a patient and you get more comfortable and then you see an outlier patient and you get more comfortable what the routine, what it looks like, etc.

So we kind of build up on things.

It's the same thing when you're learning how to play soccer or how to play football. When the coaches don't start off with like, you know, some massive dribbling skill. They'll teach you like the basics of kicking a ball.

So the human brains develop the kind of "build things slowly" upon things that's already learned.

So scaffolding essentially means like, when you're building an apartment complex. So put up the beams first, in that sort of like your basic knowledge. And then you start putting in the walls on the floors, which is like your next level. And then you put up the fancy stuff inside each apartment, where a sort of like, you know, the new ones stuff that you bring first.

I think it really describes a lot of how the human brain functions.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And when you're thinking instead of walls, and windows, and doors, and the things that we make a building with, what we're talking about with words and with communication and reading is really vocabulary.

You know, finding words that, you know, other words that may mean the same thing, you know, synonyms, words that are opposite.

It's not just learning what words are, but the connections between different words and then we start to build on more cognitive or brain activity, concepts, and then that flows into how well our memory is with the vocabulary that we have, you know, reading stories, we know, improves memory, and improves critical thinking skills.

So as we build on that vocabulary and concepts, we can apply those to other things, that's all the decorations so to speak of the scaffolding that we have in the brain.
And then we can see how that improves academics, just, you know, if you have a better memory, better vocabulary, you can understand concepts to critical thinking.

That all goes along and all starts really with words communicated between babies and moms.


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And you've all probably heard in, many of our listeners have probably heard that expression, that around 4th grade is when children move from learning to read, to reading to learn.

And that's why this discussion about early literacy and helping make that a successful as possible is so important for school success. Because once you have to start reading to learn, if you struggle with the reading, you're going to struggle with the learning.

And we also know that not only is that help important for a getting into a school but it's important for self-esteem. It's less likely that you'll get into trouble with drugs, or dropping out, or peer pressure.

All those things that kind of build upon school success, and school success is quite a bit built on reading success.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And then this whole idea of family literacy, so when people say this is family, November 1st is Family Literacy Day or the month of November is Family Literacy Month. What do we mean by that?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: First, I think we should do pumpkin ice cream for family literacy, so I'll put that up on the table forever.


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: So, I look at it in two ways.

The first way is, I think the way we think as pediatricians are conditions, where I'll have a patient and a family and I'll discuss something with them, and I want to make sure everybody is on board, one on a quilt.

And in some families, again I work in a large number of immigrant families, a lot of times the teenagers or the pre-teens will understand what I'm saying, or writing down a lot quicker than the parents.

So I think family literacy, just some extent, is having everybody have at least a similar or basic knowledge based about reading that you can discuss things with them, again, more of a health literacy issue.

I think family literacy also, with going back to the whole idea of joy or just being comfortable of something, where the study after study showing that if you grow up on a house where you have less stress and you feel more loved, then the children actually seem to do better down the road for a lot of outcomes.

And family literacy is where everybody seems to work together and enjoy the reading interactions as a family, where you're reading a book together or you read a book out loud, or you watch a movie about something that you like as a family.

Just to kind of bond the family. And I think it's almost a forgotten skill that a lot of families are kind of not jump into.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And I like how you likened reading with mental health, and behavior, and toxic stress, and those kind of things.

Here I'll give myself a little ding for toxic stress.

But just this idea that when we are stressed out all the time, that can lead to changes in the chemicals in our body which can be associated with diseases down the road.

Sometimes even 20-30 years down the road, because of being stressed all the time.

And there is research to show that reading can help in so many ways and then these benefits families in mental health. So stress reduction in reading stories is actually associated with reduced stress.

It can actually even act as a mood stabilizer, so it can help with depression and anxiety. You know, maybe not completely on its own, you know, you may not be able to treat real depression and real anxiety just by reading, but it can be an important part of the treatment, more to avoid it.

Just, you know, relaxation, tranquility, you know, reading a story before you drift off to sleep rather than a stimulating screen, you know, it can help with sleep and then you sleep better. We know that then during the next day, there are all sorts of good things that happen because you've slept well.

It can lower your blood pressure, reading can, there's actually research study that shows that.

And then just, you know, reading together and just that social aspect of being a family and sharing stories and talking about stories. And, you know, it's just a common experience. I knew it when our kids were young, reading the Harry Potter books with them. It was an event. You know, I mean the kids were just excited to hear it. And then you talk about the story, tearing, and afterward and so, just so many benefits beyond just reading in academics.

Okay, so we've established that reading is important.


I think that's an important starting point.
So how then do we promote early literacy with our children? How do we get our kids interested in books to begin with?


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Well, to me, that's one of the most fun questions that you asked.

Because the take away would be, make it fun.
And parents, grandparents, babysitters, guardians, older brothers and sisters, should really focus on this language piece.

And first of all, it's important to know that no baby is too young to talk to.

Now obviously, talk to one month differently than you talked to, a four-year-old, or a ten-year-old.

But to talk to babies, and engage, and allow them to hear spoken words, not in a monotone, meaning just all the same sound like I'm talking right now. But with the expression, and excitement, and funny noises if it's an animal sound.

And look for that, I will just going to use the word reciprocity, the back and forth. So not just talking at your child but asking questions or saying "Oh, Mama loves you so much!" That engages that little infant.

And then as they continue to grow, you start to name things, you point to things, you talk about what you're doing, if you're making dinner, if you're going for a walk, you help them explore their world by naming things and showing them that things have names.

And it's never really too early to start reading to your baby. Now clearly, a 3-month-old isn't going to follow the story but they are going to love being cuddled on their parents' lap and start to associate that tiny little board book with warmth, and love, and cuddling, and all of these words. And then build on that over time.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Even if they chew on them, right?

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Absolutely, that's so important. Some people don't realize that that's a healthy normal behavior for a baby to put it in their mouth and they're like "Oh! No, no. You'll hurt the book!"

That's why we give board books to babies because they're built for that.

And the littler the better, that they can get their little hands around them and explore it the way they learn to explore their whole world.

And then as they get older, you start getting more complex books, books with pictures, and counting books, and little stories, and farmyards, and animal stories, and then little plots, and pages start to turn to paper instead of the board books.

And then it really even gets more fun when you start sharing complex stories together like Harry Potter and others.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And I always loved, so you know, my kids would have their favorite books, and you did when you hear the same book over and over and over again. But then what you'd find is they could even with before they could read words, they could start to tell the story back to you as they were looking at the pictures.

And that, I was always a lot of fun to see that development.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Or if you get something wrong or try to skip through it, they catch it. Right? Anything that is gone, like that.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes, yes. Absolutely.

There, you know, as we talk about getting kids interested in books, there is a program called "Reach Out and Read." And I'll be honest, I don't know a lot about this program like I've heard of it.

And, Mary Ann, I know you were a former Medical Director of Reach Out and Read in Iowa at one point in your life.

So tell us, what exactly is Reach Out and Read and how can that help parents get their kids excited about books?


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Well, Reach Out and Read is a great program, it's almost probably 30 years old now and it actually started in Boston, when some doctors and people in their office brought in their children's books they'd outgrown and left them in the waiting room.

And the books were disappearing. And instead of saying, "Why are these books disappearing?" They said, "Why are these books disappearing?"

And they realized that people were taking them home because their patients didn't have books at home. So that gave rise to what is now Reach Out and Read, and it's a really great program that we use in doing well-child visits from 6 months up to 5 years of age.

So at each of those well-child visits, the child gets a brand new age-appropriate book, we have it in different languages, different subjects, to all kinds of different exciting books.

We give it to the child early, it's not just a reward for making it through the shot. It's "Look at this!"

You talked about how important it is to read with your child, or to look at books with your child, and talk about pointing out to the parent during the visit, "Look how much he loves that book!" or "Look how she's putting it in her mouth! That's such a good milestone for her development!"

So it really couples giving the book with age-appropriate guidance to the parents about reading and sharing books with their child.

And then if you're really lucky, you have volunteer readers in the waiting room who can model reading aloud, because it is different to read to a baby on your lap than to a two-year-old that climbing all over a bean bag chair while you're trying to read.


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And there has been some great literature research looking at the impact. And I was going to bring up, you'll probably going to bring this up as well, is this not just a learning to read skill that you're getting. A parent once asked me, all you got to do is have my child sit in my lap for twenty minutes, read out loud, and they're going to do better in school.

It was like a shock at the twenty minutes, makes a difference.

But then, Dr. Neilman, whose open case plus does a lot of research in this field, he shown, and this what I told the data's that, the fact that you're slowing down for twenty minutes to sit for your child in the couch, give him attention and read to them.

Reading actually may just be a secondary sort of good out of this.

You're just slowing down, the child feels love, you feel love to the child, you're bonding. And also in reading has become a family interaction instead of just teaching them words.
Because people will going to turn out and say "Why can't I use like an iPad or a laptop program to teach my child that better often than spending time on silly board books." Because you're missing that interaction.

And I think that's one of the keys of Reach Out and Read is that you're teaching parents how to interact with their child in a way that sort of loving and we tend to underestimate that.


Dr. Mike Patrick: One of the things you have mentioned, Alex, is that so many, you know, like half of the families in your practice don't speak English.
What do we do when parents don't read or speak English well? How can we still encourage them to be involved in this process?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: We hand out a lot of, Reach Out and Read has a lot of options that you can ask for. We ask for a lot of these picture books.

And we'll use picture books even to four and five-year-old visits, that'll have some basic words.

And I'll just tell the parents, you may not have to know what the words actually say. But at least describe the situation to them in your native language.

And as a child learns how to read English in school, you know, you can always come back to that book with the younger sibling or the child themselves and then go through the book, and then you'll learn as well.

So, you could always learn in whatever language they speak. And Reach Out and Read has been really good about it.

They also have a lot of, especially for younger kids, books in different languages. So, we have about 30% of our patients of Arabic descent. Especially from Syria and Iraq from the wars.

They have no resources at home as far as books. That's not something as in the budget.

We can give them some basic Arabic books, we have Japanese, Chinese, slight of Spanish, you know, and we can ask for them.

Reach Out and Read's usually pretty good about finding at least…

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: At least 14 different languages.

And as Alex just said, you talk about looking at books with your child, so if the parent is English speaking but doesn't read well, they can still talk about the pictures. And as the child gets older, they can ask these questions,

"What do you think is going to happen?"
"Show me the pony!"
"What's happening in this picture?"

So, it's that interaction that back and forth, and as you were also saying the research for Reach Out and Read is very powerful. It's probably one of the best-researched things that we do and general pediatrics.

We know that parents and children who get through Reach Out and Read have more books in their home, they talk about reading as one of their favorite activities. They do read more to their children.
And when you measure that children's spoken vocabulary and what they understand, there are measurable improvements in that.

All of that leads back to the school readiness that you were talking about earlier.


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: That would be an interesting anecdote, we have about 15 families who speak Zomi, which is a language spoken on the Bermudes-Bangladesh border.
And Reach Out and Read do not have any Zomi word books.

But we just give them regular board books, I just told the parents, through an interpreter, just show them in your own language.
And we've had this fun time with us for about ten years now, and mom came in, and her English is much improved, and she's really proud of the fact that she's learning English along with the kids.

And now her oldest child, I think she's about 12 or 13, and I said, "What are some of the resources you use to learn English?" And she ripped out this book that we have given the youngest child at that time about 10 years ago.

That's was like, Richard Scarry ABC book, and moms like "I learned English on this book and he taught me English."

So I taught him to love reading on a board book in Zomi, he wants a school-learned English and then he came back and taught me.

Dr. Mike Patrick: That was really quick.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And now, she's using…

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Spectacular.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: It was just amazing. It was like, this is why Reach Out and Read works so well. Because now he's like giving back, and to his mom who spent the time to give to him.

And that's the way the program was envisioned when it first came out.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And I can see large families with older kids and younger kids, those same kinds of dynamics happening between siblings, too.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Was this hard for a family to say, "I want to go learn English." And when you're going to find the time, or the money, or the resources taken at in the evening off to learn ESL so well to look library. But if you had the resources at home, you know, you can start basic ABCs.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And all that is done in a fun, loving way.

It's not like, okay we're going to have our English lesson, we're going to look at this book which we'd love because we've read it ever since we were little one. And we're going to just keep enjoying the book and "Oh, by the way, we're learning English on the way."

Dr. Mike Patrick: And kids love games, I mean, that's so much better than like you said, like lessons.

Looking at it, this is fun. And what I mean, telling stories is great fun and even if it begins as just looking at those pictures and if you really can't read the word, just telling stories about those pictures.

It doesn't matter what those real words there or not.

So language would really be one barrier that can get in the way of reading.
But there's a lot of other barriers too, and I just put this question out, and before we started this, I'd said let's think of just some barriers in general rather than assigning one person this question.
Because there's so many different kinds of barriers. What are some that you thought about?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Let me start off, I want to mention, too.

I think the easy one is resources to buy books.

So a lot of parents, if you don't have the resources, don't think of buying books. So, I think that's an easier one to kind of fix if you have book drives, etc.

I think the bigger issue, and this affects all socioeconomic status families across the board, is this mindset that things electronic are better than things written.

And we see this in clinic all the time, where do you spend time of a book, no because I could look something up on the Wikipedia, and I'm not nagging Wikipedia, I love Wikipedia.

But it's sort of like this mentality that everything should be data-driven, everything should be sort of a concrete. And when people have lost the joy of just sitting down for good book, just for the heck of it. I just want to sit down for good book and enjoy with the family member by myself.
And a lot of parents will like, I'd rather spend money on a good electronic game. He'll learn his ABCs quicker on some electronic game than if I read to him.

But that's not the point. The point is that you actually are teaching him a life skill that he will use or she will use forever.

And you know, learning the skills, you know, the best athletes don't learn the skills right off the bat. They've learned to love the game and then the skills are kind of built in.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And if expense is an issue, I mean the library is a fantastic opportunity to see all kinds of books, and really a family trip to the library when kids are very young, that can be really exciting and fun.

And there are a lot of national programs, like Reach Out and Read has programs, the only part and has this program, where she, I think there's a million kids enrolled now, the show give a free book to a child in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd birthday, blank in on the details.

There's some programs out on the west coast that are very similar.
People donated millions of dollars to hand out books to families. So you can identify them pretty quickly and, you know, we have a list in clinic often, you can qualify for this or that.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And if family members need gift ideas for birthdays, holidays, say "Hey, buy him a book!" Can we encourage that?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Or trick and treat. The town we lived in, the library actually hands out kids' board books for trick or treat.

Dr. Mike Patrick: That's interesting!

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: That's a smaller town, like maybe a thousand kids. People donate board books, they hand them out.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: So others tag on to what Alex said, I love the way you express it, but you also assume them for what you said, is time and TV.

So, we live in this very busy world and the idea of reading for pleasure is diminishing and fading away.
And also, role modeling, so kids need to see their parents reading for pleasure. Reading the newspaper or reading even if its that's something for work. That they're seeing people read for other reasons, but reading for pleasure is important.

And I think this misunderstanding that they can watch TV in her language and do all these programs in their laptops and phones and tablets, whatever. It's still missing that interactive piece.
And then another thing, I think, because we talked about being active, and I also talked on other patients about turning off the TV.

Well, it's raining, it's cold, it's dark.
There are still other things you can do but maybe aren't going to get your heart rate way up. But they are going to stimulate your brain and maybe even your vocabulary. Working puzzles, playing make-believe. Because when you play make-believe, you create stories in your head about who you are, you're a firefighter, you're a teacher, you're whatever you are.
So in thinking and doing crafts and coloring and playing board games with other kids, that teach us a lot of vocabulary and skills that also feed into language and literacy, and how can I have a world works and how you function, how you work within that world.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. Another barrier is kids who really truly have trouble reading.

So, I mean, you really do have folks with learning disabilities and reading problems. And I think the way to overcome that barrier is to recognize that and get your kids help as soon as possible.
And really trust the folks in your school system with what they're seeing and whatever ways which they can help your child read better and just give them the help.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: That's true. And, you know, we screen young ages for learning, not necessarily learning disabilities but for the developmental problems that could ultimately lead to learning disabilities. Things that can be caught early, and we could do something about it.
And that also makes me think about how all of these can also be a little bit of a way to explore parents come through with reading, since some parents may not read well or maybe they don't speak English.
When you're having that conversation about reading in books with children or the family, you can ask, kind of gently inquire, do the parents like to read to relax?

And they may share that they struggle with reading or "I don't speak English and I don't have anything that's not in English to read."

So then you can kind of connect them with adult literacy programs that are through our community colleges, some other local resources, English as the second language classes and other things.

So, kind of goes full circle.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And don't always wait for the teacher to say something about your child's reading. Like if you have concerns, talk to, I mean, bring that up with your child's teacher because they may not recognize it as quickly as you do at home.


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: I've noticed, I'm glad you brought up the fact that this is not uncommon, because we've had parents who themselves struggle learning with reading. Who don't want their child labeled as a poor reader.

So, I had a resident one time, spending, that was brilliant, the way she did it, tell a parent that I have problems reading, and this is common, and if your child has to read with kids in the room, that probably be through for others like your daughter, it was a daughter in this case.
So it's okay to identify, and you know, I'm a doctor, I did fine on my parents identify their early work on it.

And I think that empowers a lot of parents who themselves struggle with literacy because they're almost embarrassed, and they're like "Oh, I got peg as a bad reader in second grade," and they were agreed with.

So I think it's important to mention the fact, this is a fairly common problem.
We operate 10-15% of kids and then give them school system, are going to have problems with reading. Just the actual hit, not even the stimulation at home.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And we know that a third of the adults in our country really struggle with reading. And because they've struggled, it's very embarrassing to them. They struggled in school, they've lived in fear being called on to read out loud, they struggled to learn because the reading burden goes up higher and higher as you get older. They may not, you know, they didn't get picked to do things because they were kind of trying to hide in that being called on, because they weren't sure what was going on.

So there's a lot of, they will call it shame, adult learners will often say there's a lot of shame associated with not reading well.
Which is why it's important to talk about it and explore it very sensitively and look for opportunities to help those adults as well.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And then that brings up the new kind of question to literature a little bit because you could say, "Is early childhood reading, does it really lead to success? Or, I mean, does it really causing an effect? Or, Are the way that certain, you know, that brains are made up are as compatible with reading or with success in our society?" So that there's some underlying difference in brains.

Again, I'm not trying to say that reading is not important but, you know, for being honest with ourselves when you look at research sometimes it's hard to know that one thing that really caused the other or is there some other issue that involves, you know, kids not reading early and having trouble later.
Does that make sense?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Need again, the Reach Out and Read study group has looked at the impact of lower economic status. I'll bring up the whole idea of adverse events of life or adverse event.

His group is actually quantified to looked at the impact of these things in children, and can you impact it by doing Reach Out and Read in that community.

So even for kids who are at higher risk of not doing well because of…

Dr. Mike Patrick: For other reasons.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: For other reasons have an impact.
So it seems to cut across the board. And there is a study from Cleveland where they want to like, one of the worst-performing schools and just got into that neighborhood and had the kids start to read at their 6th month, you know, parents read to the 6th-month visit.

And they notice that the percent of kids who finished high school over a 20-year-period went up exponentially. And in the neighborhood didn't change a whole lot, and also you had kids who weren't finished in high school. And then that changed the neighborhood.

And to some extent, probably was due to the fact that now this neighborhood was more literate as a group, more proud of the fact that they are literate and parents from, were sort of showing this at home. It became okay to read, it became okay to do well in school.


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And reading is just so fundamental to so many things. Not just getting an A in school but to so many other pieces of life.

And then it leads them into that issue of self-esteem and self-confidence and all those other skills that lead to more success, whether you, you know, go to graduate school or whether you go to a trade school. I mean, there are a lot of manuals that you have to read if you are taking care of an equipment or working with dangerous equipment or chemicals or whatever.

So it's just so important to work well.

Dr. Mike Patrick: One question I have is if you look at the kids who do have reading difficulties, would having started earlier have changed that? Or is there something more intrinsic with…

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: What?


Dr. Mike Patrick: Is there something just sort of in the brain, to begin with, you know, that just sort of born with it, that makes it more difficult to read? Or, there's probably no definite answer for this.
But the kids who have troubles, because they didn't get enough early on or was they just the way their brains are made up? It's more difficult.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Or yes, to both. So it's like physical therapy for kids who aren't developing well and there, I'll just say, I don't want to get a ding for this, Gross Motor Function. And with that, it actually means is just walking and moving your big body parts.

So walking, moving your arms, having balance etc.

We know that there are a percentage of children who don't have good motor development or good skills in walking because they didn't get the stimulation from their parents to do it. And physical therapy seems to help them out quickly.

You have a group of kids who don't walk well because there may be something delayed in how they're developing, and physical therapy seems to help them.

And then you have kids who have a neurological problem and they don't walk well. Physical therapy is still going to help them, in other words, it may not get them to the same level as a child who just needed some stimulation. But it will get them to a much higher level and sort of maximize the potential that they have.

So the way you look at Reach Out and Read is almost like reading therapy, in other words, you're essentially taking a child regardless of what their potential is.

And you're helping them maximize that potential.


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: That's well-stated. And a couple of things that there are some children who have some health issue that will limit their reading ability for whatever reason. That you could still optimize, make as good as you can for that.

But we also know that the brain of a baby and a toddler and an infant is growing so fast and there are very specific timelines during that those first 3-5 years, especially his first 3 years, that are critical for language development.

And if they spend that time kind of just laying around listening with the TV in the background as opposed to being read to and talk to. That opportunity will pass, and it's going to be really hard to make that up. Because those brain cells that would have been nurtured and developed by that interaction start to fade away.

We call it preening, just like if you preen a bush. And once it's gone, it's really hard to get that.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: That's a really good point.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Another kind of take-home, I think, with this, both of you said is if you do have a child whose sort of resistant to reading and they have difficulty reading, even at a young age, the tendency from a parent's point of view may be to sort of give up on reading.

You know, well my child has difficulty with it, so we just watch TV instead.

But really, those kids who have difficulty, it's maybe even more important that you tough it out and really do continue to introduce them to books, and read, and talk about stories, and have them read back, and not give up on it.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: I agree.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: I like what you said, "introduce them to books."

So they may not be able to sit still in your lap. But that's okay, they can run and play, and you can read an exciting story while they listen to it. Maybe they'll be acting it out.

You can keep introducing different kinds of books. And let them get night storybooks that they can play with and turn into building blocks or whatever.

But again, into telling stories, maybe they like storytelling better than reading, and not to make people think that they have to sip with their hands, quietly and listen. I think that's another thing that's sometimes will they want to listen.
But a normal healthy 2 or 3-year old might just be running around the room. But still…

Dr. Mike Patrick: He might not get into the whole book, and that's okay.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: That's fine.


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And it's also a really nice tool to build into a bedtime routine.

I'm surprised how often that is not part of children's bedtime routine. They watch a movie, and then they go to bed, and then they don't want to go to bed.

I think turning out all those screens a good 45 minutes beforehand, do all the jammy stuff, read that book and make that part of that routine. It's really helpful.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Well, what are some ways that we can get our kids excited about reading? And we've kind of talk about with babies, how to do that? What about with preschoolers? And, you know, early school-aged kids? How can we get them excited about books?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Make it fun. And we've done this in our family, and I've seen a lot of other families, they would.
If you're going to go for a trip, so, for example, we do go to the zoo often because we live on the opposite side of town. But we would go to the zoo maybe twice a year. We will get a lot of books about animals, like a couple of weeks before the zoo trip.
So then when they went to the zoo, they're like "Oh! I just read about a giraffe story, I have a giraffe is staring up here in your office" Or "We just read a book about pandas" And now they see a real live giraffe and panda. And they brought some sort of ought to them, like "Oh, this isn't just in a book, it is actually real life." And then they come home and say "Read that panda story again."

Because now all of a sudden you're connected to something else. And there are other families, you know, don't have a zoo in their town. You can go shopping, you can read about making stone soup, which is a classic tale. And then you can make soup of the child, now they're like "Oh, I want to put this ingredient" or, you know, try to relate it to what you do. And, or read about the fall, or read about pumpkins, read about, there are so many books out there now that can kind of relate.

And a lot of libraries would have the dramatic books, kind of in the front when you walk in.

And a lot of times, kids like that because they're like "Oh, I can buy! I see pumpkins outside! And I read a book about it. It's kind of cool."


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And build on what your child is really interested in. We've probably had 50 firefighter books, when my son was 3 to 5 years old, because that's what he wanted to be.
And what their favorites are. When they ask our daughter what would her favorite was, she spilled it all at once, I thought she's going to say. I love Jenny goes to the hospital and Earth needs to choose nicely.


That was her, my favorites. But clearly, she insists that they were hers.

So we did read those over and over. And the other kind of book is the "Icefire" books. Did you guys know about that?

Dr. Mike Patrick and Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Yes, yes.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Those are so fun. And there's just a little bit of reading, and pictures are so colorful, and then our family looked involved. Can you find the two marbles and the one glitter?

So books, they're just paper, but they're interactive.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And in addition to what you reading is fun, you can also make the reading environment fun. So we would make blankets fort, or a pillow fort, you know, like make it into a reading nook. And we're going to build this thing, and then tell, and then read a story, and just again, just to make it a fun time all around.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And also, I think being a role model. And my wife loves to read. We have seven kids, so it's a big gang. So there isn't a whole lot of free time, but almost every evening, she would sit and read. You know, she has a lot of different interests. It would be ten minutes, and the kids would say, as they are older now, we remember seeing you just sit down every night and read, and those like you're waiting for a kickback.

Dr. Mike Patrick: It might be "escape" from seven kids.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: It may be "escape."


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: But they all stopped when she said on the one hand, I didn't really do it for you to see me, but on the other hand, I did. Because, I want you to see that I'm not watching TV, I'm not looking at my phone, I'm sitting here for 15 minutes, not a whole lot of time in reading some interesting article, or reading something that you really enjoy. And she said during giggling on.
Because it's like, "Is mom going crazy?" "Why is she giggling on the couch?" Then also, they will pick up the book, sort of role model.

And there's a lot to be said for. Kids tend to see what parents were doing. As teenagers though claimed that they will never do what she did. And then they turned to 20s like ours have, and they turned out to say "All that stuff you did, we now understand." You know, the ones who are in their 20s now. Like, "We do the same thing, we sit on the couch, we giggle." We saw you do it, so.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And Mike, I really want to go back to what you've said about libraries.
They are so wonderful. They're free. They have tons of books. But they also have so many other programs that are linked to stories in books. They have music things, they have crafts, they have summer reading programs, and they're set up for different ages. So teenagers can get prizes for reading bigger books and novels. And little kids can get prizes for this. There are just so many creative things that you can do in the library.

And even if you can't get there at three o'clock for the program, it's still a wonderful place to go. Go to the children's area, go to the young adult quiet reading area. Spend time there as a family.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Great place, really great places.

Our library in Hillyard is phenomenal, and just then, they opened up a new building this summer and it's just fantastic, just a real, I mean, just the spaces and the activities and the programs and really, really nice place.

So I am really been looking forward to this, and that is just sharing some books suggestions for various ages that we may be read to our kids.

And I'm going to put links to some of these in the show notes, so folks can find them easily.
So let's start with books for babies and toddlers. What do you think Alex? What are some of your favorites?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Any of the board books.

So anything that is like 6 pages long that they can know on, and we kind of look at, we did a lot of animal books and a lot of like color books. And I can name of any, like…

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: The smile books, there's smile, it's just they are small books but pictures of babies' faces. And babies love to see babies' faces. So they're called smile.

Dr. Mike Patrick: The Eric Carle books,
"The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
"The Very Quiet Cricket"

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: "Brown Bear, Brown Bear."

Dr. Mike Patrick: "Brown Bear." All of those.
"Corduroy," do you remember "Corduroy?"

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Yes.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: I love "Corduroy."

Dr. Mike Patrick: Those were great.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: "Goodnight Moon"

Dr. Mike Patrick: Oh, "Goodnight Moon" Yes.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And that "Harold and the Purple Crayon"

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: I love her.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Oh, great. Great.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: That doesn't come as a board book, it's too long.

Dr. Mike Patrick: If you're looking at pictures, there's one,
"It Looked Like Spilt Milk"
And it was basically clouds, like white cloud formations. But you could pick, you know, you could make it be just about anything that you wanted. And not a lot of words, but basically pictures and trying to figure it out what it look like and it looked like spilled milk.

"Make Way for Ducklings"

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Yes.
"Blueberries for Sal."


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes, yes.
"Mouse Mess."

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Oh, "If You Give…" All those.
"If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"
"If You Take a Mouse to the Movies"

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes, yes.
"If You Give a Moose a Muffin."
I think was another one of those. Those are always fun.
And that kind of, also proposes into more of the preschooler once were there is. It's not just pictures but there's really more stories behind it.

And one that I have thought about in years, because we're through our bookcase and looking for these, there's one called "Millions of Cats"

Have you heard of that one?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Yes.

Dr. Mike Patrick: An old guy leaves his wife to go find the cat. And he comes across in hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats. And basically, they all follow him home.

And so, you know, in my 21-year-old and my wife and I are like reading this book again the other night, it was so much fun.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And also for a preschooler, who read daylight, Rosemary Wells books, which you just, just to read out loud to them because she has like really quirky humor.
And Dr. Seuss, whose very quirky and, you know, then the kids make up their own rhymes.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And "Little Miss Spider," I think that's the name of it. It's a really beautifully-illustrated story. And it's counting, and it's sad, and at the end it's very happy and sweet, and it's just a beautiful book that I love reading over and over again.
And the Madeline books.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Those are great.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And two kids mentioned "Jamberry,"
It's about all these berry types.

Dr. Mike Patrick: I've not heard of that one, I will kind of look that one up. "Stellaluna" was a book about a bat.

One of my kids' favorites. They just, you know, who knows why, but they love that one. And then the P. D. Eastman books, so, "Are You My Mother?" and "Hop on Pop". Those are all fantastic too.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: One of the books that we came upon and really grew to love was Abuela's Weave. And again, it's a story of southern… I'm not sure if it was Mexico or in other country, about a young girl and her grandmother, and it's probably a 4 to 5-year-old, maybe 6-year-old target group but it's a beautiful story as well.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So as with other cultures is a fantastic way to introduce your kids to other parts of the world and how other people live.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And "Just Me in the Tub," I'm blank in the author's name. It's just like the sort of bear-looking thing. Something "Mayer," I'm blank in the author's… I have to look it up. But it's just like, "Just Me in the Tub" or "Just Me in the Kitchen" Just me… it's like a little snip, it's about this guy's life.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And Mary Ann, you were mentioning that these were your favorites to read to your daughter, but then your daughter had "No, these were my favorites!" And I did the same thing with my 21-year-old son and his favorites were, from kind of the preschool to early elementary age, was "Little Nino's Pizzeria."

And he ended up as a teenager working in a pizza shop, and pizza's probably his favorite food. So there's no, you know…


It all started with the "Little Nino's Pizzeria."
"Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel"

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Oh, I love that!

Dr. Mike Patrick: "Katy and the Big Snow" and "The Red Carpet"
And those were, you know, those really stuck out in him. And it's funny how, you know, you're a late teenager, young adult, and you still remember those books from way back then.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: She reminded me of "The Boxcar Children" Did you just say that one before?

Dr. Mike Patrick: No, no. That's great.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Those were fun to read as well.
And that's a point I, if I may, don't, as parents, think that "Oh, now they're 8 or 9, they're reading on their own, we don't have to read to them anymore!"
People, kids, and families can continue to read to each other. The books change, but adult, parents can read to the kids, the kids could read to the parents. And Alex, I think I heard you say that you guys did that.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And the couple of other ones they mentioned, anything by Tomie dePaola, he's got a lot of like quirkily-drawn stories, but they are always interesting.
"Magic Tree House"

I think, there's like a hundred of them. But the kids love those, and that's like older kids.
And then we had one child who didn't like to read, he was now in college, and he loved the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" And I remember one like Book Ten came out, we stood outside in the cold, be like one of the first people to buy that, Barnes & Noble or whatever was still open back then.

But I also read them. A full disclosure here, like over Christmas break. They're just entertaining. And he started to learn to read and love to read just reading these silly books and they are very entertaining.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And another example of view, we talk about books versus screen, and, when is the screen version ever better than a book, right?


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: We always like to see the, read the book first because that gives you a chance to paint a picture of what all these characters and places look like in your head before you see it, because once you've seen it, you can't create it in your own head.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And a lot of times we're like "No, wait!''


Dr. Mike Patrick: "What are you talking about?"

Let's move on to more school-age books, I mean, now you have someone who is a pretty good reader and more chapter books. What kind of things do you guys remember?

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Again, "Magic Tree House" for the younger school-aged.

"Cold Courage" was probably my favorite book growing up, and I think my older daughter's favorite book in elementary school.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: We actually, this reminds me in I think 7th to 8th-grade range, we ended up having a mother-daughter book club.

And there are about 6-8 girls and their moms, and we would meet every 2 months to pick a book and bought on it.

And I was just a really nice way to try a book that you might not have read on your own, and you talk about it. And it got some of the girls talking more than they would have and everybody read maybe a little bit more than they would have, and a quest they would have a little treat at the end.

And I started this, some of those books, "Island of the Blue Dolphins" was one that we looked at, and the…

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: "Green Gables"

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: That one came right.

But then, "Sarah, Straight, and Tall."
That's a movie also and there were three books, we'd love all three of those. So those, "Sarah, Plain and Tall" I said "Straight and Tall."
"Sarah, Plain, and Tall," I think.

So anyway those were a couple of the books, and they were a little bit more complex.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Do you remember the Ramona books?
So, "Ramona the Pest" and that whole series. And then "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing"

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Yes.

Dr. Mike Patrick: It's always kind of a fun one.
There was one that, I'm sorry, I did a summer reading program as, you know, when I was this age, and as the book that you got at the end, I picked "The Enormous Egg" which was about an egg that hatched into a dinosaur and the dinosaur had to go live at this Smithsonian. And it was an interesting story, it's out of print, but I still have my copy of it, my kid's love, I mean, getting old pages and, you know, the binding falling apart. But I did find it, you know, they're pretty pricey if you, you know, get them now. But it was an interesting story.

And then "The Phantom Tollbooth"

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Yes.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Yes.

Dr. Mike Patrick: That's a wonderful story. And it brings in, you know, numbers and words. And because you then go to "Dictionopolis" and it's kind of a crazy one.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: "Nancy Drew Series"

Dr. Mike Patrick: "Hardy Boys," "Nancy Drew," "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators" kind of a bit long to say.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Oh, John Feinstein's books, the two kids that end up going on this sports events, the NCAA Finals, the World Series, and solve crimes, they're great reads.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Try those.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: They're super, super.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And then, we did a lot of mythology. So, that kids always like the Greek Mythologists or stories from other countries. My twelve-year-old's is into Tales from Japan right now.

And I think, you just kind of grew up because you heard tales from here and there, found this book, Tales from Japan, something different. She likes it.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely.
Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" poems, do you remember that one? The one like "I cannot go to school today," said, some, I don't know…


Dr. Mike Patrick: Probably shouldn't recite it.


Dr. Mike Patrick: But there's some really funny rhymes with his books, "Where the Sidewalk Ends".
I promise there's one, "Someone wouldn't take the garbage out." Remember that one? And then the garbage is piled up and piled up and basically overtook the entire house. Just, you know, fun, fun stuff.


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: The funny consequences of one of these things, what will happen if that really happened. Nobody took the garbage out.
That's good.

Dr. Mike Patrick: "Charlotte's Web"

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: "Charlotte's Web" was great!

Dr. Mike Patrick: "Matilda,"
"Mr. Popper's Penguins,"
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,"

"James and the Giant Peach,"
All "The Wrinkle in Time" books.
There's so many, right? Just so many great books. And then, as my kids got older…

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: "Poppleton". There's this pig who solves…



Dr. Mike Patrick: The pig solves mysteries?

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Well, "Piggins."
Okay, so "Piggins" is a shorter book. He is a little butler in an English mansion that solves a crime. It's just so entertaining. I think, there are two or three "Piggins" stories.
And then there's "Poppleton," who I think is also a pig who has some friends, turtles, a goat, and a couple of others. This is just really endearing story, that is one of our favorites.

So, "Poppleton" and "Piggins"

Dr. Mike Patrick: I got to look that up.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Yes, same here.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Definitely.

And then, as we get into teens and young adults, you know, we've mentioned some of those.

"The Harry Potter Series"
"Hunger Games"

"The Maximum Ride Series" with James Patterson, have you heard of those? Teenagers who are like, science experiments so there basically half-kid and half-bird. And they've got to kind of form their own society, people are chasing them. Those are really pretty interesting.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Tolkien's books.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely.
So, "Lord of the Rings"
"The Hobbit"
That trilogy.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And they are long, so they can spend all Christmas break just to read one.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Kind of long trip, prepared trip.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: A long trip.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: I think I am aware of a set of books that, I don't have it bypass me when I was younger. But there's kind of book I would've loved, and I read a couple, and I love it now. And I don't remember the author but it's a series about children who go to the Chicago Art Museum. And apparently, there's a whole area of these rooms from different periods in history in miniature. And in the story, they somehow accidentally get into this miniature display, and then they have a grand adventure as you can imagine. And there's a whole bunch of them. And if you don't like Medieval History, maybe you'll like, you know.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: We have those. I like who wrote those. We have those on the house.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: I just stumbled on a couple of years ago.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: They're good.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Love them.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Very interesting.
And of course, the "Chronicles of Narnia," the lion lived from a wardrobe. And that whole series of books is really fabulous, too.
Again, the books' way better than the movies.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: And then, Mark Twain. So, "Huckleberry Finn" just to bring back a consequence.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. And I, we're done selling the classics, I remember
"Little Women,"

"Jane Eyre,"
"Pride and Prejudice,"
"Of Mice and Men,"
Those are all fabulous stories, that, you know, for more than teen-young adult kind of crowd.

And then the new, so if your kids are into sci-fi, "The Martian" was really a fabulous book. If you've watched the movie, the book, of course, has way more details about, you know, the guy who was on by himself on Mars.

"Ready Player One"

"Ender's Game"

All great sci-fi kind of books. And then, so this is something may be a surprise for some folks on the audience. But one of my favorite storytellers is actually Stephen King. You know, people think of horror genre, but he is really a good storyteller with character development.
And so as my daughter, you know, late teen, early young adult, we would read some Stephen King books, kind of in parallel and then discuss them.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: He writes very well.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And in fact, if you're interested in writing, his book on writing, we really talk about the "Craft of Writing" is really phenomenal. Really, really well done.


Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: I did a reading in parallel, I think that's a really nice idea. Because sometimes when you get into this heavier books, it's hard to read lengthy passages and that's how we read a couple of Harry Potter books.
And then we ended up listening to them on tape and on CD in the car. Because everybody, just every each of us has a ten-minute drive to the grocery. "Yeah, I'll go, because I want to see what happens next." And then, as you also said, "And you talk about it." "What do you think is going to happen?"

Dr. Mike Patrick: I do a lot of audiobooks. And, some of it is a time issue, so when I'm commuting in the car, rather than just sort of mindless radio, I really just love listening to audiobooks. And still reading, right? I mean, you wouldn't want to necessarily do it exclusively especially for young kids, you know, when they're learning to read. But it certainly has a place later on.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: My one son is a history buff, so he read a phoretic hover, which was then a whole series of history-reading, all this late. International espionage books, and I really can't even name them all. But that was his thing, he was a big fan of espionage and these are all historically-based novels.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And that kind of speaks again toward read what you're interested in, even, you know, later on.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: And our son somehow stumbled on a group of books like that. Like some author from England that wrote this series of, kind of, adventure but sci-fi, espionage books. And then he actually into the writing a letter to the author who sent him another book.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: Wow.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: The series kind of stopped. And then, a couple of books that we all enjoy with our family, and we've given as gifts, they're through. And they read like an adventure novel.
So, "Into Thin Air" the account of the Everest expedition and ended tragically longer years ago now.
And one that was recommended to me that I never would've picked up called "The River of Doubt" and it's about Theodore Roosevelt decided that he didn't succeed running for president. So, gush turn he's going to take a ride, he's going down the Amazon.
And this is "Spellbinding"
The story of what these people went through, going down the Amazon in the early 1900s. Hard to put it down. So keeping your ears open to those kinds of books that may be stumbled over on your own.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. That's so much fun. And we're going to put a lot of these books, and there may be even some that we didn't talk about.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: About dozens of pages of links.

Dr. Mike Patrick: We have a whole bunch of links.


Dr. Mike Patrick: So you can, you know, maybe find some treasure, some literary treasure for your family. And we'll have those in the show notes for this Episode 417 over

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: Good holiday gift ideas.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes, absolutely.
And not only for the parents, but, you know, people are always asking, what can we get your kids for Christmas? This was supposed to be a great thing. Or even gift card for a book. You know, say this is, you know, okay, if you're going to do it in the Amazon, so it has to be a book.


Dr. Alex Rakowsky: That's true.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So, great ideas.

Well, once again, Dr. Mary Ann Abrams and Dr. Alex Rakowsky, thanks to both of you so much for stopping by and being here today.

Dr. Alex Rakowsky: This was fun.

Dr. Mary Ann Abrams: It was. Thanks, Mike. Thanks, Alex.




Dr. Mike Patrick: We are back with just enough time to say thanks to all of you for taking time of your day in making PediaCast a part of it, we really do appreciate that.

Also, thanks to our guests this week, Dr. Mary Ann Abrams and Dr. Alex Rakowsky, our Pediatrics in Plain Language Panel. Always appreciate when they stop by. There is really a lot of fun talking about reading and books today.
Don't forget, you can find PediaCast in all sorts of places. We are in the Apple Podcast app, also iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, Spotify, most mobile podcast apps on iOS and Android.
If you do come across a podcast app and you can't find PediaCast in it. Please let me know through the contact page over And we'll do our best to get the show added to their line up.
Speaking of that landing site,, you will find our entire archive of past programs there, 417 episodes, our show notes for each of those episodes, transcripts, and many of those. And Our Terms of Use Agreement, very important. And of course, that contact page if you'd like to suggest a topic for the show.
We are also part of the Parents on Demand Network, which you can find at
It's a collection of podcasts for moms and dads. The collection includes PediaCast along with other terrific programs for parents, including the Double Happiness Multiplied Podcast, which is your complete guide to enjoying a multiple pregnancy and building a happy, healthy family life. Each episode features opinion from multiple birth experts. And the parents who share their experiences of having twins, triplets, and quadruplets, and perhaps beyond.

Some recent topics, Seven Common Complications of a Multiple Pregnancy, How to Prepare for the Birth of Your Twins, What to Expect if Your Twins are Born Prematurely, Spending Time in the NICU With Other Kids at Home, and How to Keep Your Relationship On Track While Having Multiples.
So a great stuff, especially if you have twins or more on the way, or in the NICU, or at home, or if you know someone in one of those situations.
And I will include a link to the show, again the Double Happiness Multiplied Podcast. I'll put a link in the show notes over at for Episode 417, so you can find it easily.

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Please let them know about the shows, so they can share it with their other families. And while you have their ear, let them know we have a show just for them.
It is similar to this program, we turn up the science a couple of notches, we offer free Category One, Continuing Medical Education, credit for those who listen, again free.
It's called PediaCast CME, the CME stands for "Continuing Medical Education"
And the shows and details are available at the landing site for that program That one is also available on Apple Podcast, iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, Spotify, most mobile podcast apps. Simply search for "pediacastcme"
Thanks again for stopping by, and until next time. This is Dr. Mike saying stay safe, stay healthy, and stay involved with your kids.

So long everyone!



Announcer 2: This program is a production of Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time on PediaCast with your kids.

So long everyone!



Announcer 2: This program is a production of Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time on PediaCast.

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