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


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

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

Hutton, JS, Dudley J, Horowitz-Kraus T, DeWitt T, Holland SK. Differences in Functional Brain Network Connectivity During Stories Presented in Audio, Illustrated, and Animated Format in Preschool-Age Children. Brain Imaging and Behavior. 2018.

Hutton JS, Huang G, Phelan KJ, DeWitt T, Ittenbach RF. Shared reading quality assessment by parental report: preliminary validation of the DialogPR. BMC Pediatr. 2018 Oct 18;18(1):330. 

Hutton JS, Phelan K, DeWitt T, Horowitz-Kraus T, Altaye M, Dudley J, Holland SK. Shared Reading Quality and Brain Activation During Story Listening in Preschool-Age Children. Journal of Pediatrics. 2017 Dec;191:204-211.e201.

Hutton JS, Lin L, Gruber R, Berndsen J, DeWitt T, Van Ginkel JB, Ammerman R. Shared Reading and Television Across the Perinatal Period in Low-SES Households. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2017 Oct 1:9922817737077.

Hutton JS, Gupta R, Gruber R, Berndsen J, DeWitt T, Ollberding NJ, et al. A Randomized Trial of a Children's Book Versus Brochures for Safe Sleep Knowledge and Adherence in a High-Risk Population. Acad Pediatr. 2017 Nov - Dec;17(8):879-886. 

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.