Mission and Model

What we do and how we do it.

Our Mission

Reach Out and Read prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.

The Reach Out and Read Model

Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read's evidence-based, three-part model into regular pediatric checkups:

  • Starting in infancy, trained doctors and nurses speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud. 
  • At each regular checkup from 6 months through 5 years of age, the child receives a new book to take home. 
  • Many Reach Out and Read program sites create literacy-rich environments that include gently-used books for waiting room use and/or volunteer readers to model for parents the techniques of reading aloud to young children.

As a result of this three-part intervention at the doctor's office, parents become more engaged and read to their children more often at home. The time spent reading translates into quantifiable gains: Our evidence base of 15 peer-reviewed research studies shows that during the preschool years, children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These early foundational language skills help propel children on a path of success when they enter school.

The program serves more than 4 million children and their families across the nation, with a special emphasis on serving those in low-income communities. Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential in school and beyond.

Reach Out and Read provides books for children in more than 14 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish.

Download the one-page description of the Reach Out and Read program (PDF).

Get Adobe Acrobat Reader.

U.S. Totals
4.2 million
children served annually

Reach Out and Read's thousands of doctors and nurses promote early literacy and school readiness to young children and their families in all 50 states. Each year, medical providers at the nearly 5,000 Reach Out and Read program sites nationwide distribute 6.5 million books to children and invaluable literacy advice to parents.

  Local Impact
Awards & Endorsements Recognition for Reach Out and Read's Impact Nationwide.
Endorsed By American Academy of Pediatrics
Award Winner 2013 David M. Rubenstein Prize
Endorsed by National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Literacy Partner American Academy of Family Physicians

Parent Resources

A Prescription to Read 20 Minutes Every Day.

Suggested Reading:


Title: Maybe a Bear Ate It
Author: Robie H. Harris
Reading To Your Five Year Old

Children have wonderful imaginations and books can encourage their creative play just like the improbable events that caused the book in this story to disappear.

View all