After learning that kindergarten teachers in Kansas reported that as many as half of their students enter school without the literacy skills needed to learn to read, the Kansas Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (KAAP) developed Turn a Page. Touch a Mind. (TAP-TAM) in 2004. TAP-TAM is an early literacv program that takes advantage of the trusted and consistent relationship between a child’s physician and parents. In just seven years participating physicians have distributed over 200,000 new, developmentally appropriate books to Kansas kids 6 months through 5 years old.
Marta Edmonds, MD, Ryan Wililiams, MD and Chris Koster, MD at the Great Bend Children’s Clinic are participating in TAP-TAM because they believe in making sure that their patients are healthy in mind and body. They have already begun giving out new, developmentally appropriate books to their patients at each well check from 6 months through 5 years old, and encouraging parents to take time each day to read with their children. Studies have shown that reading daily is the single most effective way to help children develop the early literacy skills needed to learn to read, and hearing this message from a trusted source of guidance, the child’s physician, is a powerful tool in making sure that children start school ready to learn to read. The Great Bend Children’s Clinic will give out about 3,OOO books to their patients each year!
The TAP-TAM program has been embraced by the physicians and families across the state. “We are just thrilled with the success and growth of TAP-TAM over the last several years. The addition of the Great Bend Children’s Clinic is exciting because we will reach thousands of children each year in a part of the state that we hadn’t reached yet,” said Chris Steege, KPF Executive Director. Currently there are 50 TAP-TAM sites in 26 counties in Kansas that will distribute over 75,000 books this year. The impact of these books, with the reinforcement of daily reading from the child’s physician, will last far into the future, as Kansas kids start school ready to learn to read.