About Reach Out and Read

Giving young children a foundation for success

Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

Doctor with book and Haitian family


The best opportunity to influence a child's future is in the first five years, a critical window of rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time. Children who hear fewer words during early childhood start school developmentally behind their peers and may never catch up.

When families read aloud to their young children, they can give them a better start to life. With unparalleled access to families with young children, Reach Out and Read medical providers give books to children at more than 10 well-child visits from infancy until they start school. More importantly, they encourage families to read aloud and engage with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers every day.

The effectiveness of the Reach Out and Read model is recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics in a policy statement that recommends early literacy promotion as an essential component of pediatric care. Our program is both cost-effective, and evidence-based: research shows that our program results in more frequent reading at home, accelerated vocabulary and critical brain stimulation. 

We value the commitment of our many donors, who have partnered with us to expand our reach. We are now a national organization, currently serving 4.7 million children and their families in the U.S., half of whom are from low-income families. 

By giving young children a foundation for success, Reach Out and Read is combatting the effects of income inequality.


Reach Out and Read was founded in 1989 with its first program at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center). By 2001, dramatic growth brought the Reach Out and Read model to all 50 states, with almost 1,500 sites distributing 1.6 million books per year.

Today, Reach Out and Read partners with more than 6,200 program sites and distributes over 7 million books per year. The program currently serves one in four children living in poverty in this country, and continues to grow each year with the vision that one day the Reach Out and Read model will be a part of every young child's checkups.

View a history of Reach Out and Read (PDF).

Contact Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read National Center
89 South St, Suite 201
Boston, MA 02111