Excited kids meet a ‘curious’ little monkey

Maple Grove Library hosts Curious George, U of M Health Clinic

Young children anxiously waited at the Maple Grove Library for a favorite little monkey to stop by for a visit April 14.

Curious George makes a stop at the Maple Grove Library for a special storytime event April 14. The curious monkey and Dr. Lara Al-Ejeilat from the University of Minnesota Health Maple Grove Clinic partnered with the library and the Reach Out and Read program to encourage families to read together. Kids also get their pictures taken with Curious George. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)
Curious George makes a stop at the Maple Grove Library for a special storytime event April 14. The curious monkey and Dr. Lara Al-Ejeilat from the University of Minnesota Health Maple Grove Clinic partnered with the library and the Reach Out and Read program to encourage families to read together. Kids also get their pictures taken with Curious George. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)

Curious George make a quick visit to get a check up and meet some of his fans during a storytime event at the library.

University of Minnesota Health Maple Grove Clinic partnered with Reach Out and Read and the Maple Grove Library to invite area kids and their parents to see Curious George. Clinic pediatrician Dr. Lara Al-Ejeilat even gave Curious George a check up.

FREE BOOK

After the check up, kids were able to get a photo with Curious George and even take a free book home with them to keep.

“We sent every child home with a book that day so knowing that we reached that many children that day and that every child hopefully sat with his parents and had a book read to them is what this is all about,” Dr. Al-Ejeilat said of the event.

The books were given out by University of Minnesota Health and Reach Out and Read.

Reach Out and Read is a national program that helps prepare children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to give books and encourage families to read together. During well-child check ups at the Maple Grove clinic, and other Fairview and HealthPartners Clinics, doctors give children a free book to take home.

David Martinson, University of Minnesota Health Media and PR Coordinator said, “Reach Out And Read is one example of how we’re trying to improve the health and well being of our communities, which is a fundamental value for M Health. We care for patients and our communities, we don’t just treat them.”

Kids cannot contain their excitement as Curious George makes a visit to the Maple Grove Library on April 14. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)
Kids cannot contain their excitement as Curious George makes a visit to the Maple Grove Library on April 14. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)

Dr. Al-Ejeilat, who has been working at the Maple Grove clinic since September 2013, said the clinic has been using the Reach Out and Read program since the clinic opened in 2007 (then as a Fairview clinic). “We have given out more than 28,000 books since then,” she said. “This means we have reached 28,000 families and educated them about the importance of reading.”

She added the program helps start the conversation with parents on how important it is to read to children starting at infancy. “Children who are read to have better early school performance and a wider vocabulary,” she said. It also helps with bonding between the child and the parent when they read to them every night.”

Curious George gets ready for his check up with Dr. Lara Al-Ejeilat at the Maple Grove Library. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)
Curious George gets ready for his check up with Dr. Lara Al-Ejeilat at the Maple Grove Library. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)

REWARDING

All different kinds of books are handed out, including: potty training, books about becoming a big sibling, the importance of exercise and healthy nutrition and books about starting school.

“It is rewarding to see children get excited about the book, or toddlers immediately sitting in their parents’ lap to read the books,” Dr. Al-Ejeilat said. “I give out a book to some picky 5-year-olds about fruits and vegetables and at the end of the book, there are vegetables and fruits listed for every letter of the alphabet. My challenge for them is by their next visit, they should try all those fruits and veggies. It makes children and their parents go to farmers markets looking for those and encourages the kids to try new things.”

She also hoped kids at the event at the Maple Grove Library April 14, learned that going to the doctor could be fun as they watched Curious George get his check up.

One bonus of the event at the Maple Grove Library were free books that were given out all the children attending. The books were made possible by the University of Minnesota Health and Reach Out and Read. The Reach Out and Read program gives young children a book at all pediatric check ups. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)
One bonus of the event at the Maple Grove Library were free books that were given out all the children attending. The books were made possible by the University of Minnesota Health and Reach Out and Read. The Reach Out and Read program gives young children a book at all pediatric check ups. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)

“Immunizations are a stressful experience for both the child and the parent,” Dr. Al-Ejeilat said. “The first question we are asked at most well child check is how many shots are we getting today. It is important for families to know that we now have ways to make shots less ‘scary’ and less painful. When we sang for George, we used one of the most important, evidence-based technique which is distraction. We also used the buzzy bee which has also been proven to numb the pain, sometimes even as good as the numbing cream.”

READ TO CHILDREN

She also said she couldn’t emphasize enough how important reading books to children is. She this is ” for their brain development, language development and imagination. Children learn do much more from being read to than watching education TV. Studies show that children under 2 do not benefit from educational screen time so it is very important for families to know this and how much one book a day affects their child.”

The next event the University of Minnesota Health Maple Grove Clinic, along with Maple Grove Hospital, will be hosting is the Child Safety Fair taking place Saturday, May 21, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Maple Grove clinic, 14500 99th Ave. N. Some of the events at the fair include: a bike rodeo, bike helmet fittings and sales, beginner skateboard lessons, safety (fire, water and ski), kids ID child safety kit, doctors answering questions, appearance by Goldy Gopher and Pete the Cat, explore a fire truck and ambulance, bounce house and more. There will also be food available for purchase.

Those attending are asked to bring a food or personal care item to donate to a local food shelf. More information is available at mhealth.org/safetyfair.