The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 14, 2001

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Reach Out and Read Event in Chicago
As Delivered
Chicago Hospital Pediatric Unit
Chicago, Illinois


Thank you very much.

Mrs. Ryan,
Dr. Honig,
Chancellor Manning,
Dr. Niederman,
Ms. Branch,

I’m thrilled to be at the University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center to talk about the Reach Out and Read program.

Dr. Zuckerman, it’s good to see you again.

Thank you Cecilia for telling your story...and for reminding us how important reading is to your sister and to all children.

I also want to congratulate the Medical Center for the work you’re doing here through Reach Out and Read. Your success is worth highlighting, and I applaud your dedication to the good health and the bright future of Chicago’s children.

Cecilia and her sister — and this program — all show that reading together has tremendous results.

Children who are read to learn two things: First, that reading is worthwhile, and second, that they are worthwhile. The most important result of reading together, though, is that it builds a strong foundation for reading and learning later in life.

With that in mind, I recently launched an initiative called Ready to Read, Ready to Learn. Part of that initiative includes working with programs such as Reach Out and Read.

Reach Out and Read is a great way for doctors to help families and parents understand how important it is to read to their babies.

Doctors tell young parents that, just as the human touch fosters physical and emotional growth in babies, reading to babies also benefits a baby’s brain and emotional development.

The effort is a success in part because parents trust and respect their pediatricians. It is also a success because doctors have a chance to identify reading problems early, when they are easier to remedy.

One example comes from a Texas pediatrician’s experience. She gave her very first prescription for reading to a mother who brought in her asthmatic son. She outlined the prescription for reading and started to show the mother how to hold her baby and the book while reading.

After a few minutes, the baby’s mother finally leaned over and whispered, "I can’t read".

The doctor referred the mother to a local literacy provider that partners with Reach Out and Read so she could learn how to read to her child and read the labels on her child’s asthma medication.

What an opportunity — to improve a mother’s life and break a cycle that would limit her child’s chances for success!

I’m proud to support to Reach Out and Read’s further development throughout the United States.

I consider it a great opportunity to continue doing what I love — to help others experience the joy and benefits of reading with children, and to make sure that more children have the chance to succeed in school and in life.

I want to thank the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center for making sure children grow up healthy and ready to read and succeed in life.

So, I encourage the people of Chicago and all Americans to support this worthwhile program. Reach Out and Read could use funds for books to give to children, and they always need volunteers to read in the waiting rooms.

Thank you for supporting Reach Out and Read. I believe in this program, and I am thrilled that you do, too.

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