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Reading Keeps Kids Healthy - 5 Free Ways to Turn Your Kids Into Readers   

By Julia Rabbia, RN, BSN

Helping your kids learn to love reading can be vital to their health as they grow. Research suggests that improving literacy benefits mental health, strengthens family and social bonds, and sets kids up for success in school and beyond. These 5 free resources in Sanford will help your kids stay healthy and learn to love reading!

1) Books at a Steal

Located in downtown Sanford, Books at a Steal is a volunteer-run used book store providing exciting, engaging books for you and your kids at affordable prices. A trip to the bookstore makes a great outing for kids and can be a wonderful way to help them build excitement for reading. Take your little one on a special trip to find their next book and they’ll be begging to read it over and over! 

2) Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

It can be difficult to find time to visit the library or bookstores with our increasingly busy schedules, so Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library delivers free books right into your mailbox each month until your child turns 5 years old. The books are age-appropriate and kids get to experience the fun and excitement of receiving a book in the mail addressed to them! Lee County residents, register your child here.

3) Little Free Library

Do you have used books at home and kids who love an adventure? Take your kids on a “scavenger hunt” to exchange books at one of the Little Free Libraries here in Sanford! If you take a book there’s no need to return it, simply leave a replacement book for someone else to find. 

4) Reach Out and Read

Reading is so crucial to kids’ health and development that many North Carolina pediatricians are treating reading as a prescription! The Reach Out and Read program provides kids with books to take home at each well-child doctor’s visit until age 5. If you’re interested in this program, contact Sanford Pediatrics.  

5) Lee County Libraries 

Our local libraries host regular story times where you and your kids can hear a new story and meet new friends! Help your little ones sign up for their very own library card, they will be excited to test it out. Keep an eye out for announcements about the summer reading program!

Keep your family healthy and encourage reading! No matter their age or stage, daily reading can benefit kids’ development. For little ones who haven’t learned yet, reading out loud is a fantastic and evidence-based way to expand their vocabulary and bond as a family. Older children can read out loud to their siblings or to family over the phone for practice. These resources will make it easy and fun to help your kids excel, stay healthy, and learn to love books!


Dewalt, D. A., Berkman, N. D., Sheridan, S., Lohr, K. N., & Pignone, M. P. (2004). Literacy and health outcomes: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 19(12), 1228–1239.

Low, F. (2022, June 14). Bonding: A brilliant brain builder. The importance of supporting parents to bond with their child from the earliest years. ResearchSpace Home.

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