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, MD, MS, is a pediatrician and clinical researcher in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics and Director of the Reading Literacy Discovery Center. His unique reading background includes almost 20 years at the helm of blue manatee children’s bookstore, which in 2019 was converted into Blue Manatee Literacy Project, a 501c3 non-profit providing books and reading experiences to underserved children. He has published 29 children’s books, many with health-promoting themes, including screen time reduction (Baby Unplugged), dialogic reading, reading to babies, infant calming, safe sleep, breastfeeding, ADHD and how the heart works. His books have been adopted in statewide public health campaigns and distributed to millions of 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 MRI to better understand the influence of modifiable aspects of home reading and screen environments on structural and functional 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, widely featured in national media.

As a pediatrician, Dr. Hutton is also working to validate efficient screening measures of emergent literacy skills and risk factors for clinical use, to guide early interventions and reinforce the concept of reading as a critical aspect of child health and development. Interventions include specially designed mobile health apps and community-based sessions in dialogic reading. He is also actively developing and applying children’s books for a range of pediatric health literacy and advocacy topics, including in clinical trials.

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).

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

Blog Posts

Tips to Encourage Screen-Free Learning During COVID-19

BlogLearning and Growing

Tips to Encourage Screen-Free Learning During COVID-19

By John S. Hutton, MD7/14/2020

Screen Time Linked to Brain Structure Changes in Young Children

Mind Brain Behavior

Screen Time Linked to Brain Structure Changes in Young Children

John S. Hutton, MD, MS11/4/2019

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

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

A novel, composite measure of screen-based media use in young children (ScreenQ) and associations with parenting practices and cognitive abilities. Hutton, JS; Huang, G; Sahay, RD; DeWitt, T; Ittenbach, RF. Pediatric Research. 2020; 87:1211-1218.

ECI biocommentary-June. Hutton, JS. Pediatric Research. 2020; 87:1150-1150.

Literacy as a Distinct Developmental Domain in Children. Klass, P; Hutton, JS; DeWitt, TG. JAMA Pediatrics. 2020; 174:407-408.

Maternal reading and fluency abilities are associated with diffusion properties of ventral and dorsal white matter tracts in their preschool-age children. Farah, R; Dudley, J; Hutton, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Brain and Cognition. 2020; 140:105532-105532.

Differences in functional brain network connectivity during stories presented in audio, illustrated, and animated format in preschool-age children. Hutton, JS; Dudley, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T; DeWitt, T; Holland, SK. Brain Imaging and Behavior: an international journal. 2020; 14:130-141.

Associations between Screen-Based Media Use and Brain White Matter Integrity in Preschool-Aged Children. Hutton, JS; Dudley, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T; DeWitt, T; Holland, SK. JAMA Pediatrics. 2020; 174:e193869-e193869.

Screen-exposure and altered brain activation related to attention in preschool children: An EEG study. Zivan, M; Bar, S; Jing, X; Hutton, J; Faraha, R; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Trends in Neuroscience and Education. 2019; 17:100117-100117.

Hyperconnectivity during screen-based stories listening is associated with lower narrative comprehension in preschool children exposed to screens vs dialogic reading: An EEG study. Farah, R; Meri, R; Kadis, DS; Hutton, J; DeWitt, T; Horowitz-Kraus, T. PLoS ONE. 2019; 14:e0225445-e0225445.

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.