Books Matter: Rachel Ledbetter

By Kathryn Herd

As a child, Rachel Ledbetter was entranced within the emerald green pages of “Goodnight Moon.” Through the scenes of small kittens, strewn gloves and a knitting rabbit, Ledbetter found a soothing calmness with the turning of each page.

During her early childhood, Ledbetter was able utilize her imagination and creativity by acting as the narrator for the books she pretended to read. Through a rollercoaster of intonation and created words, Ledbetter was allowed the freedom to dictate the world within the emerald pages of “Goodnight Moon.”

 “I could just do what I wanted per say and it was still reading in my own way, and that instilled in me a sense of enjoyment. So, I learned to love it, because there was a freedom in it,” Ledbetter said.

The ability for children to “read” whatever words they wish to read lets them grow confidently in their language acquisition and reach academic milestones, according to Ledbetter.

Ledbetter is the manager of the Reach Out and Read program for the Waco Family Health Center. Within the last three years, the program has administered 21,000 books to patients ranging from 6 months to 5 years old.

Her favorite books serve as both nostalgic reminders for the mothers and valuable teachings for the youth she serves. The books include “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown, “Corduroy” by Don Freeman, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems and “A Box Can Be Many Things” by Dana Rau.

According to Ledbetter, books are resourceful tools for teaching lessons and equipping children with school readiness. “Goodnight Moon” teaches routine and consistency. “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” teaches that every action has a consequence. “A Box Can Be Many Things” teaches the importance of creativity.

“Corduroy” emphasizes the beauty of one’s self-worth through the life of a stuffed teddy bear.

“It touches my ‘mama heart,’ because it teaches you to love things as they are,” Ledbetter said.

“Just because you’re missing a button doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. An imperfection doesn’t diminish you as a person.”