From the Journals

Children’s book effectively assesses literary skills during well-child visits



The children’s book “The Reading House” was an effective means of assessing emergent literacy skills in children aged 3-4 years during well-child visits, reported John S. Hutton, MS, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and his associates.

The Reading House (TRH) is a 14-page, full-color, board book with a simple, rhyming narrative and illustrated content showing children of various ethnicities and sexes going about their day. For the study, published in Pediatrics, 278 children aged 36-52 months (mean age, 43.1 months) were recruited from seven pediatric primary care clinics, two of which were affiliated with an academic children’s hospital primarily serving families of lower socioeconomic status. The children’s reading comprehension was measured by way of a 9-item TRH assessment, as well as the 25-item Get Ready to Read! (GRTR) validated measure; parent, child, and provider impressions of TRH also were collected.

The mean TRH assessment score was 4.2, and the mean GRTR score was 11.1. The TRH score was positively associated with GRTR score, female sex, private practice, and child age (Pediatrics 2019 May 30. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-3843).

Of the 72 clinical providers surveyed on the effectiveness of the TRH assessment, most reported that the assessment was not invasive in patient flow (93% not at all, 6% somewhat, 1% very much), that TRH would be feasible to administer (49% yes, 43% not sure, 8% no), would be clinically useful (67% yes, 31% not sure, 2% no), and would be useful for families (85% yes, 14% not sure, 1% no). Similar results on the effectiveness and enjoyability of TRH were reported by parents and children.

“Although psychometric properties are critical, effective screening should be perceived as useful and not burdensome or invasive. Responses to parent, child, and provider surveys were favorable, which suggests that TRH screening may be an enjoyable and valuable addition to well-child visits,” the investigators wrote.

Dr. Hutton conceived, wrote, and edited the children’s book used in the study, and is the founder of the company that published the book, although he receives no salary or compensation for this role. The book’s intended use is as a screening tool, distributed at low cost to clinical practices and organizations. The other study authors did not report any conflicts of interest.

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