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Librarians bring books and comfort to pediatric patients at Banner Thunderbird

Hospital and Phoenix Public Library team up to read to patients

GLENDALE (July 11, 2023) — In addition to having electronic devices while in the hospital at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, pediatric patients can also hear stories of far and adventurous places thanks to a group of librarians from the Phoenix Public Library who are part of a program dedicating their time to read books to patients.

The reading initiative called Spoonful of Stories was created by Rebecca Opalka, an assistant manager at the Phoenix Public Library and Jodi Rall, pediatric academic coordinator for school services at Banner Thunderbird. Since its inception, the librarians have had the opportunity to read to more than 1,200 patients at Banner Thunderbird. Each reading session provides a moment of relief and positive distraction which helps create a special connection between patients, parents and hospital staff.

“The library has always been a place of comfort and relaxation,” said Rall. “We wanted to bring that experience directly to the patients who need it most. Seeing the smiles on their faces and witnessing the sudden change in the patients’ mood, is an incredibly rewarding experience for all."

Studies show that reading aloud helps reduce stress, boosts mood and enhances overall well-being, particularly during challenging times. As a result of this, patients have reported feeling more relaxed, optimistic, and emotionally nourished after the reading sessions.

“The days I get to go to the hospital to read to patients are the ones I cannot wait for the day to start,” said Opalka. “After spending time with these patients, I am now more aware of how life is a gift and we need to cherish it.”

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona, specializes in heart care, surgical services, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency and trauma care, behavioral health, cancer care, rehabilitation, and pediatrics, including the West Valley’s only pediatric intensive care unit, pediatric Emergency department and Level III neonatal intensive care unit. Banner Thunderbird also operates a Level I Trauma Center for patients ages 15 and older. The hospital is part of Banner Health, a nonprofit health system with 30 hospitals in six states. For more information, please visit

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center Banner Health

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