Physician-Assisted Literacy -- Prescription for Reading Program Gains Momentum

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Booksellers around the country have more reasons than ever to sign on to the 2002 Prescription for Reading marketing program. This year, Prescription for Reading is sponsored by a partnership of ABA, Book Sense, Chronicle Books, Baker & Taylor, and the Pizza Hut® BOOK IT!® Program. All of these partners have a strong interest in improving literacy and the general well-being of children. Prescription for Reading pairs independent booksellers with healthcare providers to encourage parents and caregivers to read to very young children to ensure a healthy start in life.

Prescription for Reading is part of the larger Book Sense marketing program, but is open to all storefront bookstore members of ABA.

Under the program, booksellers distribute "prescriptions," or coupons, to healthcare providers, who then pass them on to parents and caregivers. The coupons can be redeemed at the participating bookstore for both a free copy of the year’s exclusive book and a coupon for a savings at Pizza Hut. This year's book is a special edition of Sylvia Long's Mother Goose, published by Chronicle Books.

By involving community healthcare professionals in this effort, the program can extend its influence to people who may not have been reached in any other meaningful way. Participation in the program enables booksellers to make a difference in a child’s life. Booksellers are familiar with the satisfaction of opening a child’s mind with a special book; through the Prescription for Reading Program, booksellers can help to bring the gift of reading itself to very young children. The entire community benefits from increased literacy, and booksellers specifically gain new customers when they encourage new readers.

Beth Puffer, manager of Bank Street Books in New York City, has participated in the program many times. She told BTW that "the idea is a great thing. The concept of putting books into new hands is a wonderful way to bring people into the store. Any connection between community workers [doctors, nurses] and the bookstore is a great thing."

According to Jill Perlstein, ABA's director of marketing services, "Prescription for Reading not only enhances community literacy programs, it attracts consumers to independent bookstores. A survey among the participating bookstores indicates that about half of the consumers visiting bookstores for the free children's book were first-time visitors. Also, one-third of the booksellers reported incremental sales as a result of the visit for the Prescription for Reading program."

The program this year is bigger than ever, with 150,000 free copies of Long's special edition book to be distributed via bookstores between July 1 and December 31, 2002. This is a 50 percent increase in the number of distributed titles over last year. Expansion of the program has been possible due to the additional sponsorship of the BOOK IT! Program. (Click here for more on this subject).

All storefront bookstore members of ABA can order two promotional kits and 200 copies of Sylvia Long's special edition Mother Goose for a program fee of $50. Included in each kit are the books, the "prescriptions," Pizza Hut discount coupons, and specially designed posters. Books and kits should be ordered through ABA and will be distributed by Baker & Taylor. The kits contain promotional materials to be used with local healthcare providers to encourage wide distribution of the Prescription for Reading coupons to parents and caregivers.

Click here to download an order form (pdf format) for the Prescription for Reading kit. For more information, contact Jill Perlstein, ABA's director of marketing services, at (800) 637-0037, ext. 1283 or via e-mail at