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Article
August 2000

Prescribing Books for Immigrant Children: A Pilot Study to Promote Emergent Literacy Among the Children of Hispanic Immigrants

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154(8):771-777. doi:10.1001/archpedi.154.8.771
Abstract

Objectives  To assess book-sharing activities within first-generation Hispanic immigrant families, and to assess the effect of pediatricians giving books to their patients.

Design  Survey.

Participants  Convenience sample of 122 predominantly Hispanic immigrant parents of children aged 2 months to 5 years. Of these parents, 56 had received children's books from the pediatrician, and 66 had not.

Setting  House staff continuity clinic at a university children's hospital.

Main Outome Measure  Frequent Book Sharing (FBS) was defined as a parent's reporting more than 3 days per week of sharing books with the child. Main independent variables included the following: (1) exposure to the Reach Out and Read program, defined as having received a children's book from the pediatrician; (2) socioeconomics, as measured by parents' years of education and Medicaid enrollment; (3) acculturation, as defined by 4 questions relating to parents' proficiency with the English language; (4) parent's country of origin; (5) parent literacy, as measured by a parent's reporting more than 3 days per week of reading alone; (6) parent's age; (7) marital status; (8) household size; (9) child's age; (10) child's sex.

Results  Ninety percent of the parents were born outside of the United States (71% in Mexico), 85% spoke Spanish in the home, and 63% had completed less than a high-school education. Seventy-five percent of children's medical insurance was provided by Medi-Cal (Medicaid), and 9% of children were uninsured. Sixty-seven percent spoke exclusively Spanish at home, and 84% of parents want their children to learn to read in both English and Spanish. High FBS was reported among parents whose children had received books from the physician when compared with parents whose children had received no books. The odds ratio (OR) was 3.62 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.40-9.37; P<.05). Also associated with FBS were parents reading frequently to themselves (OR = 9.52; 95% CI, 2.09-43.27; P<.05) and national origin outside Mexico (OR = 5.54; 95% CI, 1.59-19.27; P<.05). These findings were independent of parent's educational level, parent's employment, parent's age, acculturation, and family size.

Conclusions  Pediatricians can promote literacy development among Hispanic immigrant children through the provision of free books at well-child visits. Our findings also suggest the independent effects of adult literacy and child age. Further research is needed to understand the effect of pediatric literacy programs on Hispanic immigrant children, their bilingual environments, and their readiness for school entry.

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