John S. Hutton, MS, MD

Academic Affiliations

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Phone 513-636-6721



General and community pediatrics


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

Dr. John S. Hutton, MD, is a pediatrician and clinical researcher in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Division of General and Community Pediatrics and Reading and Literacy Discovery Center. He graduated with honors from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, received Master’s Degrees from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Cincinnati, and completed pediatric residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. His unique reading background includes over 15 years at the helm of Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore and authorship of over 24 children’s books, many with health-promoting themes, including screen time reduction (Baby Unplugged), reading and talking to babies, infant calming, safe sleep and ADHD. His books have been adopted in numerous statewide public health campaigns, distributed to over 1 million families to date, proceeds benefiting non-profit advocacy groups. He currently serves as “spokes-doctor” for the Read Aloud 15 MINUTES national campaign and works closely with the Reach Out and Read program.

Dr. Hutton’s research focus at Cincinnati Children's involves the application of MRI to better understand the influence of modifiable aspects of home reading environment on brain networks supporting emergent literacy (skills and attitudes preparing a child for reading). His work was the first to document such effects prior to kindergarten, and was widely featured in national media. Other recent studies involve the influence of parent and child engagement during shared reading on brain function in young children, and the effect of screen time and screen-based platforms on neural processing and imagery. Dr. Hutton’s overarching goal is to raise awareness of the importance of shared reading and parent-child engagement for healthy cognitive and social-emotional development, especially in disadvantaged populations, and better understand how we might improve early environments and interventions.

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.

View PubMed Publications

Horowitz-Kraus T, Hutton JS. Brain connectivity in children is increased by the time they spend reading books and decreased by the length of exposure to screen-based media. Acta Paediatrica: Nurturing the Child. 2018.

Hutton JS, Phelan K, Horowitz-Kraus T, Dudley J, Altaye M, DeWitt T, Holland, SK. Story Time Turbocharger? Child Engagement During Shared Reading and Cerebellar Activation and Connectivity in Preschool-Age Children Listening to Stories. PLoS One. 2017 May 31;12(5):e0177398.

Horowitz-Kraus T, Schmitz R, Hutton JS, Schumacher J. How to create a successful reader? Milestones in reading development from birth to adolescence: The contribution of language, cognition, and literacy to reading development. Acta Paediatrica: Nurturing the Child. 2017 Jan. 

Horowitz-Kraus T, Hutton JS. From emergent literacy to reading: how learning to read changes a child's brain. Acta Paediatr. 2015 Jul;104(7):648-56.

Hutton JS, Horowitz-Kraus T, Mendelsohn AL, DeWitt T, Holland SK. Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listening to Stories. Pediatrics. 2015 Sep;136(3):466-78.

Hutton JS. Baby unplugged: a novel, market-based approach to reducing screen time and promoting healthy alternatives. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2013 Jan;52(1):62-5.

A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing a Children’s Book to Brochures for Safe Sleep Education in an At-Risk Population Enrolled in a Home Visitation Program. Principal Investigator. Private Foundation Grant, The de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation. Mar 2013-Oct 2016.

Neural Effects of Home Reading Environment, Screen Time and Animated Format in Preschool Children Processing Stories. Principal Investigator. Private Foundation Grant, Thrasher Research Fund. Jan 2016-Dec 2017.

Read Aloud Longitudinal Study, Screening Measures and Neuroimaging Protocol Development Stage. Principal Investigator. Private Foundation Grants, and the Candace Kendle Charitable Trust. Jul 2016-Jul 2017.