A photo of John S. Hutton.

John S. Hutton, MD, MS

  • Attending Physician, Division of General & Community Pediatrics
  • Director, Reading & Literacy Discovery Center
  • Affiliated Faculty, Every Child Succeeds
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



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).

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.


General and community pediatrics

Services and Specialties

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

Research Areas

General and Community Pediatrics, Reproductive Sciences


Maternal education as an environmental factor related to reading in children with reading difficulties: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Greenwood, P; Hutton, J; Dudley, J; DiFrancesco, M; Farah, R; Altaye, M; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Dyslexia: an international journal of research and practice. 2023; 29:217-234.

[Formula: see text] Higher access to screens is related to decreased functional connectivity between neural networks associated with basic attention skills and cognitive control in children. Meri, R; Hutton, J; Farah, R; DiFrancesco, M; Gozman, L; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Child Neuropsychology. 2023; 29:666-685.

Neuroimaging of brain connectivity related to reading outcomes in children born preterm: A critical narrative review. Kelly, KJ; Hutton, JS; Parikh, NA; Barnes-Davis, ME. Frontiers in Pediatrics. 2023; 11:1083364.

Shared reading with infants: SharePR a novel measure of shared reading quality. Hutton, JS; Huang, G; Crosh, C; DeWitt, T; Ittenbach, RF. Pediatric Research. 2023; 93:976-984.

Associations between digital media use and brain surface structural measures in preschool-aged children. Hutton, JS; Dudley, J; DeWitt, T; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Scientific Reports. 2022; 12:19095.

Psychometric properties of the ScreenQ for measuring digital media use in Portuguese young children. Monteiro, R; Fernandes, S; Hutton, JS; Huang, G; Ittenbach, RF; Rocha, NB. Acta Paediatrica: promoting child health. 2022; 111:1950-1955.

Chronic pediatric diseases and risk for reading difficulties: a narrative review with recommendations. Perazzo, D; Moore, R; Kasparian, NA; Rodts, M; Horowitz-Kraus, T; Crosby, L; Turpin, B; Beck, AF; Hutton, J. Pediatric Research. 2022; 92:966-978.

Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study of a Primary Care-Based Intervention Promoting Shared Reading During Infancy. Crosh, CC; Barsella, A; Van Slambrouck, L; Notario, PM; Li, Y; Parsons, AA; Hutton, JS. Clinical Pediatrics. 2022; 61:475-484.

Inequities in Public Library Branch Access and Children's Book Circulation in a Midwestern American City. Crosh, CC; Hutton, JS; Szumlas, GA; Xu, Y; Beck, AF; Riley, CL. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion. 2022; 6.

Shared Reading and Risk of Social-Emotional Problems. Martin, KJ; Beck, AF; Xu, Y; Szumlas, GA; Hutton, JS; Crosh, CC; Copeland, KA. Pediatrics. 2022; 149:e2020034876.

From the Blog

Screen Usage Linked to Differences in Brain Structure in Young Children
Mind Brain Behavior

Screen Usage Linked to Differences in Brain Structure in Young Children

John S. Hutton, MD, MS11/9/2022

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
Blog Learning 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
Blog Research and Discoveries

Study Shows Interactive Reading With Kids May Increase Cognitive Development

By John S. Hutton, MD6/13/2017

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