Dental Students Read to Children in Spare Time

Farielle Houran

Many children in the waiting room of the Dr. and Mrs. Carl Rietman Pediatric Dentistry Clinic love books, but some don’t know how to read, have limited English skills, or have no one to read to them. To encourage early childhood reading, as well as create positive memories of going to the dentist at OHSU, third-year dental student Farielle Houran recently initiated Reach Out and Read, a program for dental students to read to young patients in the waiting room during their free time.

“I love to read with children,” said Farielle, who taught in a bilingual second grade classroom as part of her Spanish minor at Pacific University (she received a bachelor of science in biology, graduating in 2011). “There’s something so captivating about sitting down one-on-one with a child and listening to their brains churn as they sound out challenging words. Being a part of this active learning process is so much fun!

“Life during dental school can be overwhelming so any opportunity to re-charge is welcome,” she said. “What better way to regroup than by entering the world of a colorful dental-themed book with a child? I wholeheartedly believe reading to be as rewarding for me as for the child to whom I’m reading.”

Farielle said the school’s pediatric dentistry book collection now numbers in the twenties. Dental students aren’t required to sign up to read or have any experience. 

“We just show up in the waiting area when we have an extra 15 to 30 minutes, scope out the kiddos there, and grab a couple of books to read!” said Farielle, who estimates she’s volunteered at least five hours this semester, and tracks other students’ participation via a log.

“God has blessed me with the discovery of how life-giving it is to read with children!” she said. “I am so happy to share this realization with my fellow classmates.”