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Jul 6, 2015 4:54 PM

Rochester doctor makes house calls for reading

ROCHESTER - Dr. Walter Hoerman makes house calls. But not for medical reasons.

Hoerman reads bedtime stories to his patients. He says reading to children before they fall asleep is just as important as brushing their teeth, or putting them into pajamas, and it is never to early to start reading kids books.

"What I have seen over the past couple of years is a big creep as far as amount of reading decreasing, and the amount of electronic devices before bedtime has been increasing," Hoerman said, explaining that tablets and cell phones tell our brains to not produce melatonin - the sleep hormone.

Hoerman started the reading program in January, and parents of patients sign up on Lilac City Pediatrics' website.

"I wanted to emphasize how important reading to your child at bedtime is because it both gives them the joy of reading and helps them to relax and go to sleep," Hoerman said.

Additional benefits include increased intelligence, motor skills, and bonding time between parents and their kids.

"There is nothing more important than the spoken word from a parent to a child," Hoerman said.

Hoerman said that as children grow and develop, more complex storylines should be introduced. It is good to repeat books so children can learn about storytelling.

He added that teens should be reading physical books before bed instead of being on devices, as well. A lack of sleep makes it harder for students to focus in school, Hoerman said.

Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.

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