Wood, who is chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, will distribute the books at his clinic to encourage parents and guardians to read to their children.
“At ETSU Pediatrics, we are strong promoters of a program called ‘Reach Out and Read,’ ” Wood said. “Under this program, we give each child an age-appropriate book at each visit from birth to 5 years of age, and we teach them how to interact with the book and encourage the child to interact with the book and learn to love books. We use the word ‘interact,’ because children can learn so much from books well before they can read.”
Lottie Ryans, a book club member and director of workforce and literary initiatives for the First Tennessee Development District, said the FTDD has “enjoyed a partnership with ETSU Pediatrics and Clemmer College of Education to work to promote reading and provide a tool to help inform Washington County and Johnson City leaders on budget and policy decisions to improve the lives of children and families.”
She said this work will ultimately impact third-grade reading achievement, which “can change the trajectory for families and our communities.”
The 17 members of the Tuesday Night Book Club collected the books to be donated for nearly a year, with many friends and family members helping in the collection efforts. Now beginning its 11th year, the club meets monthly to discuss a book that members mutually choose.
Rebecca Henderson, book club organizer and former chairwoman of the Johnson City Sesquicentennial Commission, said the club members have been involved in other community outreach programs, including gathering toiletries for the Johnson City Downtown Day Center and collecting toothbrushes for Niswonger Children’s Hospital.
Club members are currently gathering wedding and prom dresses to be repurposed as burial garments for infants and toddlers.