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It's a New Day in Public Health.

The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Contact the Maternal and Child Health Section

  •  850-245-4465



    Mailing Address

    Maternal and Child Health Section 

    4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin A13 

    Tallahassee, FL 32399 

The Florida Department of Health knows that the ability to read, write, and understand numbers is a basic component to maintaining good health and eliminating health disparities. 

A parent can help nurture their child's brain development with healthy foods, a safe place to live and lots of love and attention. This attention may be shared with a child by reading books, singing songs, and telling stories.

baby boy reading a book on a bed  Did you know that during the first five years of a child's life, the brain grows and develops at a rapid rate? little girl and her mother reading a book

How important is literacy?Research has shown that proper and continued nurturing can increase a child's IQ by 10 or more points!

Early literacy is important to later academic success. The better their language development is before entering school, the more likely they are to be successful in school.

Why should I read to my infant or toddler?

Mother and father having storytime with their baby boyReading and playing with books is a wonderful way to spend special time with your baby. Hearing words over and over helps your baby become familiar with them. Reading to your baby is one of the best ways to help your baby learn.

Talking to your infant and toddler helps them learn to speak and understand the meaning of words. Pointing to objects in books and describing them as you read will help build that vocabulary. Having a large vocabulary gives a child a great start when they enter school.

What about the cost of books?

Two young boys sharing a book in the libraryTake your child to the library. This way you can check out books for free and return them for different books every couple of weeks.

Shop at thrift stores or garage sales for discounted children’s books.

To locate a local library near you, please visit Florida Public Libraries.

How do I choose books for my children?

Mother reading a book with her daughter For infants, choose books that are brightly colored.  Babies put everything in their mouth so choose books that are designed for infants and are made of cardboard, cloth, or plastic.

Toddlers are learning to explore.  During this stage, choose books that have lots of pictures that you can point out and name.  Books that make sounds, move or have different textures are also great.

Once your child is at preschool age, help your child choose books that are interesting to them. Listen to your child as they are playing, having conversations, or asking questions, to learn what they like.

Once your child starts reading on their own, help your child find age appropriate books that are not too difficult so they are successful at reading.

For reading tips, activities and downloadable print off sheets, please visit Just Read, Families! and the Books Build Connections Toolkit websites.

How can I get my children more involved in reading?

Mother and father helping their daughter with homeworkHave regularly scheduled time for reading to your child.  This can be at bedtime every night or in the morning on the weekends. Your child will come to expect this special time with you.

Create a special, quiet area for your child to read, draw and write. Have books within reach so your child can easily get to them.

Turn the television off to reduce distractions from reading.

When you leave home, take books with you to help entertain your child while you travel or go to appointments.

Children model their parents so if your child sees you reading, they will be more likely to read.  

For more activities to help your child become a reader, visit:


               Check out local libraries and book stores for free story time activities. These events are great opportunities for your child to socialize and get excited about reading.

What if I have trouble reading?

Teenage girl reading a book and smilingThere is help!  There are adult education and literacy programs in your area that are free or low cost.  Click on the link below to find a program in your area.