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‘Free Books for Kids Program’ means kids are getting much more during doctor visits

Kids who see a doctor at a Change Inc. medical, dental or vision clinic in Wintersville, Weirton, or Newell aren't just getting shots at their check-ups. Everyone under the age of 12 goes home with a new book.

It's not uncommon for kids to get a sticker or a pretzel stick at the doctor's office, but a donation of nearly 5,000 children's books is supporting a program that allows young patients to take home something much more valuable.

Kids who see a doctor at a Change Inc. medical, dental or vision clinic in Wintersville, Weirton, or Newell aren't just getting shots at their check-ups.

Everyone under the age of 12 goes home with a new book.

“We love it,” said Melinda Miller, mother of 2-year-old Keith. “Because we get a new book every time we come. He loves to read.”

Dr. Paul Macdonald helped start the "Free Books for Kids Program" earlier this year.

It's sponsored by Change, Inc.

“Change itself said we value this enough that we're going to be buying books for kids in the same way that we buy tongue depressors or any other sort of commodity that we would use for children in a doctor’s office,” Macdonald said.

The program just got a boost from the Molina Foundation, which donated 4,608 new books this month.

“It's really nice it gets the kids started reading and gives everybody the opportunity to have some books,” mother Valerie Russell said.

According to one study, a home in a middle income neighborhood will have 13 age-appropriate books per child, while low-income neighborhoods have only one book per 300 children.

And it's crucial to get books into these tiny hands.

“Go to the library, take out books, sit down with your children, read to them,” Macdonald said. “If you model reading behavior, your children will be better able to take advantage of their education right from the start.”

The Free Books for Kids Program will allow children to develop a personal library.

That's just the first chapter in a story that will benefit them for years to come.

Macdonald would love to see this program expand, and he is willing to meet with medical providers to share how to do it affordably.

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