ATHENS, Ohio – Through funding provided by the Athens Rotary Foundation and the Sisters Health Foundation, pediatricians at OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College in Athens have begun providing parents and caregivers with age-appropriate children’s books featuring people of color with every office visit.

“Reading is an important part of a child’s development,” said Amy Zidron, D.O., OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College pediatrician, in a prepared news release. “Providing books that feature diverse characters both enhances literacy and helps shape children’s perception of racial identity in a positive way.”

Selected books will feature protagonists of diverse racial backgrounds, with a goal of building empathy and celebrating differences. Titles include: “Kindness Rocks” by Sonica Ellis, “Lullaby” by Langston Hughes, “Skin Like Mine” by Latashia M. Perry, “We’re Different, We’re the Same” by Bobbi Kates and more.

“People of color are underrepresented in children’s literature--a quick evaluation of most home libraries reflects this reality,” said Zidron. “Exposure to different people and beliefs encourages empathy and provides a window into other people’s worlds. And for children of color, books that feature people like them can provide an affirming mirror.”

This project builds on an initiative that OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital launched 30 years ago called Bringing Up Babies with Books. Volunteers of the program have visited over 17,000 parents of newborns at O’Bleness Hospital, providing them with books and information about reading to children from birth.

For more information or to make a donation to support this program, please contact Tara Gilts, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital Philanthropy Advisor, at Tara.Gilts@OhioHealth.com or (740) 566.4539.

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