The South Alabama book doctor

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - For many kids, a trip to the doctor's office can be scary but there's something a little different going on in one South Alabama pediatrician's office.

"I got the idea that I could give books to kids at my practice," said Dr. Marsha Raulerson.

Raulerson is a pediatrician but also majored in English as a reading specialist before getting into the medical field. It's safe to say she has a passion for kids and reading, so she combined the two. Decades ago she came across a program that worked in other states, so she decided to give it a try in Alabama.

"I started the Reach Out and Read program in my office 22 years ago. We are the first pediatric office in the state to have this program," said Raulerson.

So every time a kid comes to the office for a checkup, they get a new book. She's given away thousands over the years. Seeing kids learn how to read puts a smile on her face, but this program is about more than the kids.

"First of all you demonstrate for a family how to read to a baby," Raulerson said. "You get a nice book like Clifford's Peekaboo and you say to the mother, your baby will grab that book and put it in its mouth and chew it. That's how babies explore books. The most important thing, you're helping the parent bond with the child. To me that's more important than the reading,"

This program is really catching on in Alabama. It's up and running in 27 counties and being used by more than 300 health care professionals. So what does Raulerson get out of doing this?

"When they bring their diaper bags out with a 10 month old and they have a book in the diaper bag, and then they sit down and get out a book, that's a great satisfaction for me," Raulerson said.

The great thing about this program. Each year organizers raise about $10,000 in Brewton to help buy all these new books. The city really does support the program. You can learn more about the Reach Out and Read program by checking out its website.

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