The purpose of this study was to determine whether anticipatory guidance at well-child visits (WCV) that included early literacy development and the provision of books by the examining physician changed family literacy practices. It was conducted in an inner-city pediatric clinic that serves as the continuity practice site for pediatric and pediatric/internal medicine residents. There were 352 children (181 treatment: 171 control), aged 2 to 24 months, enrolled in this prospective, controlled study. The health care providers underwent training on literacy and on how to incorporate this information during WCV. Anticipatory guidance on safety, development, and early literacy was given to all parents. Additionally, the treatment group received an age-appropriate book at each WCV. There were 1,263 visits made (686 treatment, 577 control). Questionnaires were completed by parents on physician helpfulness and by physicians on parental receptiveness. Parental ratings on physician helpfulness were higher in the treatment group than in the control group (p<0.05). Physician's rating of parental receptiveness was also higher in the treatment group than in the control group (p<0.05). Two years after enrollment, mother-child pairs who received guidance and a book were two times more likely to report enjoyment in reading together than the controls who received guidance but no book. We conclude that anticipatory guidance that included early literacy development and distribution of books at WCV resulted in increased family literacy orientation, parental receptiveness, and perception of physician helpfulness.