A photo of John S. Hutton.

Attending Physician, Division of General & Community Pediatrics

Director, Reading & Literacy Discovery Center

Affiliated Faculty, Every Child Succeeds

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Board Certified

My Biography & Research


Dr. John S. Hutton, MS, MD, is a pediatrician and clinical researcher in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics and Reading and Literacy Discovery Center. His unique reading background includes over 20 years at the helm of Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore and publication of over 25 children’s books, many with health-promoting themes, including screen time reduction (Baby Unplugged), reading and talking to babies, infant calming, safe sleep, breastfeeding, and ADHD. His books have been adopted in numerous statewide public health campaigns, distributed to over 3 million families, proceeds benefiting non-profit advocacy groups. He serves as “spokes-doctor” for the Read Aloud 15 MINUTES national campaign and on the national Medical Advisory Board of the Reach Out and Read program.

Dr. Hutton’s research at Cincinnati Children's covers all facets of pediatric general and health literacy. He is applying functional MRI to better understand the influence of modifiable aspects of home reading environment on brain networks supporting emergent literacy, the skills and attitudes preparing a child for reading. His work was the first to document such effects prior to kindergarten. He is also studying the effect of screen-based media on neural processing of stories in preschool-age children, particularly in terms of visual imagery and attention.

As a pediatrician, Dr. Hutton is working to validate screening measures of emergent literacy skills and risk factors for primary care use, to identify children at risk as early as possible, guide interventions, and reinforce the concept of reading as a critical aspect of child health and development. He is also actively exploring the application of children’s books for a range of pediatric health literacy and advocacy topics, and recently published a randomized trial establishing superiority of one of his books compared to brochures for adherence with AAP safe sleep and reading recommendations.

Dr. Hutton is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, and has received numerous awards for his work, including an Academic Pediatric Association Young Investigator Award, an Arnold W. Strauss Fellow Award and Procter Scholar Award (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center), and a Healthcare Heroes: Innovator Award (Cincinnati Business Courier). For his children’s books, he has received an Ohioana Cooper Award (Cincinnati/Hamilton County Public Library), a Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal, and a Benjamin Franklin Award Gold Medal (Independent Book Publishers Association). His bookstore was a finalist for the Women’s National Book Association Pannell Award, reflecting the best in the United States.

Clinical Interests

General and community pediatrics

Research Interests

Emergent literacy; shared and dialogic reading; early brain development; screening measures development and validation; health effects of screen-based media; pediatric health literacy and bibliotherapy

Academic Affiliation

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


General and Community Pediatrics, General and Community Pediatrics, Reading and Literacy, Reproductive Sciences, Communication Sciences

Cincinnati Children's Blog

Study Shows Interactive Reading With Kids May Increase Cognitive Development

BlogResearch and Discoveries

Study Shows Interactive Reading With Kids May Increase Cognitive Development

By John S. Hutton, MD6/13/2017

Science Blog

My Education

BS: Mathematics, Davidson College, Davidson, NC.

MS: Operations Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.

MD: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.

Residency: Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.

MS: Clinical and Translational Research, Cincinnati, OH.

Fellowship: National Research Service Award (NRSA), Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.

Certification: Pediatrics.

My Publications

Functional Connectivity of Attention, Visual, and Language Networks During Audio, Illustrated, and Animated Stories in Preschool-Age Children. Hutton, JS; Dudley, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T; DeWitt, T; Holland, SK. Brain Connectivity. 2019; 9:580-592.

The Reading House: A Children's Book for Emergent Literacy Screening During Well-Child Visits. Hutton, JS; Justice, L; Huang, G; Kerr, A; DeWitt, T; Ittenbach, RF. Pediatrics. 2019; 143:e20183843-e20183843.

Maternal reading fluency is associated with functional connectivity between the child's future reading network and regions related to executive functions and language processing in preschool-age children. Greenwood, P; Hutton, J; Dudley, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Brain and Cognition. 2019; 131:87-93.

Feasibility study of the calm baby gently program: An educational baby book intervention on safe practices related to infant crying. Eismann, EA; Pearl, ES; Theuerling, J; Folger, AT; Hutton, JS; Makoroff, K. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2019; 89:135-142.

Shared reading quality assessment by parental report: preliminary validation o the DialogPR. Hutton, JS; Huang, G; Phelan, KJ; DeWitt, T; Ittenbach, RF. BMC Pediatrics. 2018; 18.

Shared Reading and Television Across the Perinatal Period in Low-SES Households. Hutton, JS; Lin, L; Gruber, R; Berndsen, J; DeWitt, T; Van Ginkel, JB; Ammerman, RT. Clinical Pediatrics. 2018; 57:904-912.

Brain connectivity in children is increased by the time they spend reading books and decreased by the length of exposure to screen-based media. Horowitz-Kraus, T; Hutton, JS. Acta Paediatrica: promoting child health. 2018; 107:685-693.

Maternal reading fluency is positively associated with greater functional connectivity between the child's future reading network and regions related to executive functions and language processing in preschool-age children. Horowitz-Kraus, T; Hutton, JS; Phelan, K; Holland, SK. Brain and Cognition. 2018; 121:17-23.

Shared Reading Quality and Brain Activation during Story Listening in Preschool-Age Children. Hutton, JS; Phelan, K; Horowitz-Kraus, T; Dudley, J; Altaye, M; DeWitt, T; Holland, SK. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2017; 191:204-211.e1.

Randomized Trial of a Children's Book Versus Brochures for Safe Sleep Knowledge and Adherence in a High-Risk Population. Hutton, JS; Gupta, R; Gruber, R; Berndsen, J; DeWitt, T; Ollberding, NJ; Van Ginkel, JB; Ammerman, RT. Academic Pediatrics. 2017; 17:879-886.