Dr. Brian Dempsey is sending families home from checkups with free books and a very important prescription — "Read aloud to your children every day." State Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, recently visited the pediatrician's office, not only to cheer him on, but to practice what doctors preach by reading to a group of young patients.

The practice, Brian J. Dempsey, MD, Pediatrics is one of 11 programs in Hinds' district that participates in "Reach Out and Read," a nonprofit program that prescribes books and reading aloud to give young children a foundation that is crucial for success.

Embedded within the existing health care system, Reach Out and Read's model includes providing a new, age-appropriate book for each child to take home at well-child visits from 6 months through 5 years. Along with the free book for the child, medical providers offer guidance to parents about the importance of reading aloud with their children every day starting at the newborn visit.

The organization focuses on children growing up in low-income families as research shows they are at the highest risk for reading failure. The program has gained broad support on Beacon Hill.

"Reading aloud to children as early as infancy is essential to their brain development and success in school," Hinds said. "By working with pediatricians, Reach Out and Read is uniquely positioned to promote healthy reading habits. Now more than ever, it is important to support programs like Reach Out and Read."

For a complete list of program participants, visit reachoutandread.org/ctma.

MURAL EARNS HONOR

The Railroad Street Youth Project's W.E.B. Du Bois Mural Project has received national attention from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.

The murals, which celebrate the life and accomplishments of Great Barrington native W.E.B. Du Bois, are now on display on the south wall of the Triplex Cinema and the west wall of 38 Railroad Alley, Great Barrington. Du Bois was a civil rights activist and the founder of the NAACP.

They were created by an intergenerational team of youth and adults co-led by Monument Mountain students Sophie Shron, the lead artist for the designs, and Zufan Buffano, who spearheaded a deep and rewarding exploration of the life and work of Du Bois to inform the content and features of each mural.

Shron's work on the murals has been awarded a silver medal in painting from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Since their creation in 1923, these awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity and talent of the nation's youth, and provided opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated.

CHAIRLIFT TO ARTS

The Becket Arts Center has announced the installation of a new mechanized chairlift to enable patrons who cannot make the stairs to reach the second-floor gallery.

"This will be a real revolution for cultural programming in Becket," said BAC fundraising Chairman Ted Greenwood in a news release. "For years, seniors and patrons with disabilities have struggled up the Arts Center's elegant winding staircase. Many may have missed BAC's exhibitions, concerts and lectures because getting there was just too hard. Now the chairlift will make the ascent swift and safe. We are so excited that our historic building at 7 Brooker Hill Road is finally handicap accessible!"

The chairlift — which looks and acts just like an elevator — has been built after years of fundraising. It represents a broad collaboration between official agencies and individual citizens.

In addition to the town of Becket, its commissions and officials, major support has come from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation through the Barbara and Gunther Stuhlmann Fund, the Central Berkshire Fund, and Anne Leonhardt and the Leonhardt Family. Additional support came from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund.

"Neighbors and friends and motivated arts lovers reached deep into their pockets to do the rest," Greenwood said.

The 2018 season will feature workshops in painting and drawing, yoga, autobiographical writing, pastels, and a new workshop in devised theater called "Making It from Scratch."

Through a partnership with Becket Day Camp, the regular BAC summer arts camps for children has added the option of an all-day schedule.

Art exhibitions will run all summer long. Community singalongs and lectures on everything from hip-hop to cheese making are offered for free.

For information, call 413-623-6635.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.