UNC Family Medicine’s Reach Out and Read Program (ROAR) recently received a one year grant from the Strowd Roses, Inc. community grant program for the purchase of children’s books.

ROAR is a nonprofit organization that incorporates books into pediatric care and encourages families to read out-loud together. The program facilitates language acquisition among young patients and helps to establish positive patient-physician relationships. These beautiful books are given by physicians at well-child visits. Physicians also advise parents on the importance of sharing books with their children daily at home. The funds provided by Strowd Roses will allow the department to expand the program to include all children less than 5 years old.

Strowd Roses Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation based in Chapel Hill, and has been supporting programs like ROAR since 2001. The foundation provides funding for local nonprofits, and also maintains the Gene Strowd Community Rose Garden, a free and public space in Chapel Hill.

Frequent book sharing between caregivers and young children has been shown to enhance emotional bonding as well as infants’ language development.

Dr. Gayle B. Thomas, who serves as the department’s Reach Out and Read program director, emphasizes ROAR’s potential in the context of child development. “Encouraging and enabling parents to share books with their young children is as important as giving vaccines,” Dr. Thomas says. “Parents who regularly share books at home with their kids are building stronger and healthier brains, which will enable their kids to live healthier and longer lives. It is the ultimate in preventive medicine!”

Given the increased focus on the importance of the social determinants of health, this represents the department’s commitment to their youngest patients and their healthy development.