As a Stand member and pediatrician in Boston, the Every Child Reads campaign is really important to me.
I first got involved with Stand when my wife Sara joined their team more than four years ago. Every night, she would tell me about the hard work she and her coworkers at Stand Massachusetts were doing in their commitment to closing the achievement gap in our state.
Recently, this got me thinking about my work with patients as a pediatric hospitalist at Floating Hospital for Children. Every day I meet parents with low literacy, which often prevents them from being able to obtain, read, understand, and use healthcare information to make appropriate healthcare decisions for their children and follow instructions for treatment. These children are more likely to utilize the emergency room for primary care issues, require frequent hospitalization, and carry chronic diagnoses well into adulthood. These excess visits and the burden of chronic disease cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars per year.
When adults improve their literacy skills, their children have fewer health problems. Outside of the hospital, individuals who can read proficiently also drop out of school less, have fewer teen pregnancies, less joblessness, and less social alienation. We need to ensure that all children can read so that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential in school and live healthy and happy lives.