Inspired by Dr. Elder's quote, Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, initiated Booking It in the Waiting Room — a program that provides free books in the waiting room of the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. Dr. Daniel is associate director of the LEAH (Leadership Education in Adolescent Health) Program in the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine.
The idea behind the Booking It Program is the message that while adolescents' physical health is important, it is also critical that they focus on developing their minds. Books are wonderful windows into new worlds and the lives of new people. Reading can open one to possibilities and provide hope.
Why the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine?
The adolescent population served at the division's location at 333 Longwood Ave. is approximately 43 percent of color, primarily Black and Latino. Some 30 percent are covered by Medicaid (1 percent Medicare), and 7 percent are free care/uninsured.
With more than 15,000 visits to the division every year, it is estimated that more than 25% of our patients do not own books.
In the November 9, 2003, Parade supplement to The Boston Globe, it was noted that more than 60 percent of underprivileged children in the United States do not own a single book. It is likely that such a figure would apply to adolescents who are from economically disadvantaged families, including many patients we see in the Division.
Reading books is essential for adolescent's verbal and cognitive learning. Plus, books allow adolescents to experience the joys of reading and provide them with opportunities to use their imagination and engage in self-reflection.
The program was founded in 2004 by Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, with the help of Em Claire Knowles, DA, Assistant Dean for Student Administrative Services at the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.
Knowles collected more than 100 books for the program launch and has donated an additional 100 books since its beginning.
Staff members in the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine have also collected books for the program and children and families in and outside of Children's have also contributed to the program with their own book donations.
"I am so excited that I found this book. I love this author. What a great idea to let us take these home." (young adult male)
"I love science fiction books. I have been looking for this one. Reading helps me escape and relax when life gets really stressful." (young adult with an anxiety disorder)
From faculty and fellows
"Booking It is a marvelous way to encourage our adolescent patients to read. This will reduce TV time and encourage a lifetime enjoyment of reading which can only improve their quality of life."
"I am writing to let you know what a positive impact Booking It has made on our patients. My patients love the books! They are so excited. This is a wonderful and much needed project. I look forward to this project continuing and expanding...It definitely is a powerful youth development tool that empowers youth to broaden their knowledge-base as well as their horizons by exposing them to new and different environments. It is a wonderful addition to the Adolescent Medicine waiting room. I think that this program can serve as a model for adolescent medicine programs locally and nationally."
"I think that this program is an integral part of the mission of this clinic. Adolescence is a time to broaden one's mind and explore identity, and what better way to do that than through reading. My teenage patients have expressed such gratitude and excitement when I tell them that the books are theirs for the taking."
"Booking It has been such an amazing addition to Adolescent Medicine. I cannot tell you the number of times in the past few months that I have come out to find my patient with their nose buried in a newly discovered book from the Booking It shelves. And they are thrilled to learn that it is theirs to keep.
"For a practice that tries to build resiliency, curiosity and intellectualism in our patients, it has been a delight to have something concrete to give our patients at the end of our visit. It is an invaluable program."
Types of books
Our books are appropriate for adolescents at both the middle and high school levels and include:
- general fiction
- science fiction