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

Clinical Divisions

General and Community Pediatrics

Research Divisions

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

Blog Posts

Book+MRI Scans Help Predict Reading Risks for Preschoolers

Mind Brain Behavior

Book+MRI Scans Help Predict Reading Risks for Preschoolers

John S. Hutton, MD, MS2/4/2021

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

High screen use by children aged 12-36 months during the first COVID-19 lockdown was associated with parental stress and screen use. Farah, R; Zivan, M; Niv, L; Havron, N; Hutton, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics. 2021.

Randomized Trial of a Mobile App Introduced During Well-Visits to Enhance Guidance for Reading With Young Children. Hutton, JS; Huang, G; Wiley, C; DeWitt, T; Ittenbach, RF. Ambulatory Pediatrics. 2021.

Maternal depression is associated with decreased functional connectivity within semantics and phonology networks in preschool children. Farah, R; Dudley, J; Hutton, JS; Greenwood, P; Holland, S; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Depression and Anxiety. 2021.

Encouraging Parental Reading for High-Risk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Infants. Jain, VG; Kessler, C; Lacina, L; Szumlas, GA; Crosh, C; Hutton, JS; Needlman, R; Dewitt, TG. Journal of Pediatrics. 2021; 232:95-102.

Validation of The Reading House and Association With Cortical Thickness. Hutton, JS; Dudley, J; Huang, G; Horowitz-Kraus, T; DeWitt, T; Ittenbach, RF; Holland, SK. Pediatrics. 2021; 147.

Maternal depression is associated with altered functional connectivity between neural circuits related to visual, auditory, and cognitive processing during stories listening in preschoolers. Farah, R; Greenwood, P; Dudley, J; Hutton, J; Ammerman, RT; Phelan, K; Holland, S; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Behavioral and Brain Functions. 2020; 16.

Reading in children with drug-resistant epilepsy was related to functional connectivity in cognitive control regions. Kraus, D; Vannest, J; Arya, R; Hutton, JS; Leach, JL; Mangano, FT; Tenney, JR; Byars, AW; DeWitt, TG; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics. 2020; 109:2105-2111.

Potential Association of Screen Use With Brain Development in Preschool-Aged Children-Reply. Hutton, JS; Dudley, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T. JAMA Pediatrics. 2020.

Associations between home literacy environment, brain white matter integrity and cognitive abilities in preschool-age children. Hutton, JS; Dudley, J; Horowitz-Kraus, T; DeWitt, T; Holland, SK. Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics. 2020; 109:1376-1386.

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.