Perri Klass, MD
The winner of the 2006 WNBA Award is Perri Klass, M.D., nominated by a member of the Boston Chapter. Dr. Klass’s many books and articles, and her impact as medical director and president of Reach Out and Read, have had an enormous impact on the world of literacy and books. Her newest book is Treatment Kind and Fair: Letters to a Young Doctor (Perseus Books, June 2007). Perri relocated from Boston to New York City in August 2006 to accept a dual appointment as Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Journalism at New York University.
The reception in her honor took place Dec. 3 at the New York Society Library, the oldest library in New York City (1754). It was co-hosted by the Boston and New York City chapters, catered by Lisa Teiger’s Creative CuisinEtc, and generously supported by the following contributors: Annemarie Redmond Design; Carol Fass Publicity & Public Relations, Inc.; Dorothy Crouch, Crouch International, Ltd.; Hannacroix Creek Books, Inc.; Doris S. Michaels, DSM Agency; Jill A. Tardiff, Bamboo River Associates; Valerie Tomaselli, MTM Publishing; the WNBA Boston, New York City, and Washington DC Chapters; and other anonymous donors. The award and reception were previewed by an entry in the New York Times and an editorial in the Boston Globe, and Publishers Weekly carried a photograph in its December 11 issue. Publicity for the award and reception was handled by Susannah Greenberg.
Perri’s role in promoting literacy through Reach Out and Read has made readers out of children who may otherwise never even have had a book of their own. A national, non-profit organization, Reach Out and Read promotes early literacy by making books a routine part of pediatric care. Its programs have swept the country, with more than 3,000 sites in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The organization is distributing millions of books to millions of children — 3.5 million last year alone. Many of these books have gone to children whose families could not afford to purchase them on their own.
Through Reach Out and Read, Klass has forged tangible connections between increased literacy and the improved mental and physical health of children and their families; she has been a driving force in inspiring the sustaining, even life-transforming, habit of reading and has assumed a leadership role by training other physicians to do the same.
Perri’s impact on the community of readers extends to adults, too. Her commitment as a writer has enlightened and delighted many thousands of readers. She has reached out to all, with an emphasis on women, publishing in venues as diverse as Redbook, Glamour, Esquire, North American Review, Story, Gourmet, and the New York Times. Her full-length works span the genres of memoir, fiction, and advice. Her most recent book at the time of the award ceremony, co-authored with her mother, is Every Mother Is a Daughter: The Neverending Quest for Success, Inner Peace, and a Really Clean Kitchen (Recipes and Knitting Patterns Included).
It is tempting to say that Perri has made the world of books second only to her medical career, which she says is second only to her career as a parent, but she has so interwoven the worlds of medicine, reading, writing, and teaching as to make the usual distinctions no longer quite applicable. Her love of books is infectious in the best sense, and she has spread her love of the written word, as writer, doctor, parent, and daughter.
WNBA Award Citation:
The Women’s National Book Association presents the 2006 WNBA Award to
Perri Klass, MD
For making books and discussions of reading part of well-child care in thousands of pediatric centers across the country
For passionately advancing the wellbeing of children and families as physician, writer, and teacher
For inspiring women who seek to blend the challenges of profession, family, and service to community
For contributing her eclectic perspective and compelling, heartfelt prose to the world of letters
By Katharine Turok, WNBA Award Chair, 2003-07
December 3, 2006
New York City
Some of the best links for more information on Perri and ROR are: