Pikeville pediatrician creates reading program

Debby Bailey, a local pediatrician from Pikeville, introduces one of her patients, Bella Kilgore, 3, of Ferrell’s Creek, to “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff, her first book to read aloud as part of the Reach Out and Read program. The program is intended to encourage her young patients, between 6 months and 5 years old, to read aloud with their parents.

One Pike County pediatrician hopes to promote reading in the county by bringing a national reading organization to her own office.

Debby Bailey, of Pikeville, kicked off the first Reach Out and Read program site for Pike County on Wednesday. Reach Out and Read is a national nonprofit organization that combines books with pediatric care.

The organization, which started in 1989, allows pediatricians to give books to their patients, between 6 months and 5 years old. After giving the patient an age-specific book, the patient is encouraged to read that book aloud with their parents, and the pediatrician tracks their progress when the patient returns for checkups.

“We read all the time,” Bailey said, referring to her and her husband Tim Bailey. “Our kids read all the time. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be a wonderful program to bring here in Pikeville?’ We were very interested in it.”

Bailey said she heard about similar reading programs to “Reach Out and Read,” like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which also mails age-specific books to children every month. She said she wanted to bring a similar reading program to Pike County to help the children in her area. Her friend Joan Shaffer, from the General Federation of Women’s Club/Pikeville Women’s Club, Inc., introduced her to Reach Out and Read.

Since its founding, Reach Out and Read has started more than 6,000 program sites and distributed more than 7 million books to more than 4.7 million children in all 50 states, according to Reach Out and Read.

“We are so lucky that Dr. Bailey is bringing this program to Pike County,” Shaffer said.

To bring a program site to Pike County, Bailey needed to provide information in her application about the poverty levels in her area, the number and age ranges of her patients and other information. Bailey’s application was approved by the Reach Out and Read Application Review Committee.

Bailey and her husband Tim purchased between 250 and 300 books from the organization for her program site, Pediatric Associates of Pikeville. She said they spent several hours organizing the ordered age-specific books, which are designated for 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months and 3-5 years old.

Reading, especially reading aloud, has been proven to be important for a child’s early brain development, even though they cannot read or write yet. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, parents reading aloud with their children helps their children absorb the rhythms and patterns of language, understand the pictures and letters as interpretative symbols and increase their vocabulary.

Some of the children’s books found in Bailey’s collection include “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” by Laura Numeroff, books about “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and books to help with shapes and counting.

To purchase the books for her first year, Bailey received a $500 donation from the GFWC. She said she hopes to include other organizations in her efforts to increase reading in young children in Pike County.

“We hope to continue this program for many years,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s pediatric office is located in the second professional building at 419 Town Mountain Road. To learn more about Reach Out and Read, log on to, www.reachoutandread.org.

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