Where Great Stories Begin

News, Events, and Updates from Reach Out and Read

Brush Up on Reading

Successful program that harnesses the power of storytelling to teach children, parents about proper oral health expands into Michigan
Written by Jennifer Tegan at 00:00

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Board Member Claudia Aristy Wins Tisch Prize from the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute

Board Member Claudia Aristy wins Tisch Award 

Reach Out and Read would like to congratulate Claudia Aristy, our National Board Member and Director of Children of Bellevue's Reach Out and Read Program, on being awarded the Tisch Prize from the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. The prestigious Tisch Prize is awarded annually in the New York Metropolitan Area for outstanding accomplishment in the field of urban public health.

Claudia's journey with Reach Out and Read began when she, a young, immigrant, single mother, first attended the Bellevue Pediatric Clinic with her son. She began working as a parent educator for Bellevue Reach Out and Read, while working on her Bachelor of Arts Degree, which she received with honors, from Hunter College.

In 2013, Claudia was promoted to Director of the Children of Bellevue Reach Out and Read Program. Under her guidance, Reach Out and Read Bellevue has expanded greatly, including the incorporation of the Reach Out and Write and the Healthy Eating Initiatives. She also spearheaded the development and implementation of the Health Education and Literacy for Parents (HELP) project.

Claudia has proven herself to be a leader time and time again. Following her significant impact on the creation of Reach Out and Read'sLeyundo Juntosprogram, she became a member of the advisory board for Reach Out and Read of Greater New York and Reach Out and Read's National Board of Directors.

Aside from her long list of achievements, Claudia stands out for her warmth, passion, creative thinking, and enthusiasm for all the Reach Out and Read stands for. We are incredibly proud to have Claudia as a member of our team and extend our sincerest congratulations.

Written by Jennifer Tegan at 02:00

Debating the 30 Million Word Gap

Debating the 30 Million Word Gap

"Let's Stop Talking About the Thirty-Million Word Gap," published June 1 on NPR Ed's website, took a fresh look at what has become a familiar phrase. Citing two recent studies that attempt to quantify, with modern technology and larger sample sizes, the number of words heard by children of varying socio-economic levels, the article also addresses the "whole idea of a gap," quoting criticism that views "the 'word gap' concept as racially and culturally loaded in a way that ultimately hurts the children whom early intervention programs [are] ostensibly trying to help."

The first study, "Mapping the Early Language Environment" (Gilkerson et al, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2017) used "the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) System to generate estimates of (a) the number of adult words in the child's environment, (b) the amount of caregiver-child interaction, and (c) the frequency of child vocal output." It found that "Lower socioeconomic status (SES) children produced fewer vocalizations, engaged in fewer adult-child interactions, and were exposed to fewer daily adult words compared with their higher socioeconomic status peers, but within-group variability was high." [emphasis added]

That last phrase highlights one of the ways Hart and Risley has been misinterpreted: overgeneralizing the findings as if they apply to all families in a particular SES status--which can lead to implicit blame of low-income families, and a failure to search for commonalities based on quality of language exposure rather than SES.

Debating the 30 Million Word Gap x 2

The second study, "Reexamining the Verbal Environments of Children From Different Socioeconomic Backgrounds," (Sperry, Sperry and Miller, Child Development, April 30, 2018) addresses this issue directly, revealing "substantial variation in vocabulary environments within each socioeconomic stratum, and suggest[ing] that definitions of verbal environments that exclude multiple caregivers and bystander talk disproportionately underestimate the number of words to which low‐income children are exposed."

However, a critique of the latter study, "Talking With Children Matters: Defending the 30 Million Word Gap," (Hirsh-Pasek, et al, Brookings.edu, May 21, 2018), points out that without an upper-middle-class cohort for comparison, the disparity in the number of language interactions cannot be measured--and it is the disparity that leads to the relative disadvantage for

children of all SES who have fewer reciprocal verbal interactions. In addition, the article points out that, while the Sperry study measures the number of words heard in the child's environment, rather than "conversational turns," it is the reciprocal nature of those "serve-and-return" interactions that supports not only language development but also secure attachment.

What do these alternative perspectives mean for Reach Out and Read? National Medical Director Perri Klass MD reminds us that there is a great deal of data to support the finding that disparities in early environment and parent-child interactions have an impact on child development, but that it is also true that many factors besides SES affect a child's home environment and relational experiences. Our job always is to support parents, across all circumstances of SES and family situations, while remembering that poverty imposes additional stresses with which families must cope.

We know that it is very important to guard against any suggestion of blaming poor parents for the circumstances of poverty, and that we should never equate parenting in poverty with poor parenting. It's useful and helpful to think about the complexities of early stimulation and a positive environment, and about the complexities of language and interaction and relational health--and that helping parents and children look at books together and talk about them fosters language interaction and "conversational: turn-taking, as well as enriched vocabulary. This should help us to work toward a better understanding of what works to support parents, and to help them use reading together and looking at picture books to help their children grow and develop.


Written by Alison Corning Clarke at 00:00

New Study Shows Reach Out and Read’s Model Gives Families More than Literacy Support

Pediatrics Study

Improved social-emotional competence.
Improved quality of life.
Increased interest in reading in children.

A new study in Pediatrics featuring Reach Out and Read proves that the benefits of our model extend beyond literacy and help set children up for success.

Click here to learn more about all the ways reading aloud together can make a difference in a child's life.

Written by Reach Out and Read - Communications at 11:00

Reach Out and Read's Impact at the Holland Community Health Center

A guest blog written by Donna Lowry, MD, President and CEO of Ready for School, Holland, MI.

Ready for school

Starting with just one provider in 2010, Ready for School of Holland and Zeeland Michigan, believed that Reach Out and Read (ROR) would support its community wide commitment to kindergarten readiness.  It has done that and more!

The Holland Community Health Center (HCHC), which provides high quality care to children who are on Medicaid, is a different place then it was prior to starting ROR.  Bringing ROR to the Clinic has transformed health care delivery.  The respect and care for the whole child, the whole adult and the whole family is closely linked with bringing a literacy focus to the office.

Ready for kindergartenSusan Frost, Practice Manager, HCHC shares, "Reach Out and Read started us talking about reading with caregivers and children.  It set off a chain reaction of change, so now from the waiting room to the exam room, we celebrate literacy.  The ROR library was expanded to a lending library for older children and adults.  Our volunteer ROR coordinator, Mary Bosscher (pictured), is in the waiting room reading to children, working on puzzles and "I spys".  She also has conversations with older children and adults.  She gives book recommendations, talks about hobbies and connects people's interests with reading.   Reach Out and Read has been a big part of transforming the clinic culture."

Since 2010 Ready for School has partnered with over 50 health care providers to navigate ROR program guidelines and expectations as well as offering assistance for securing funding and coordination.

Multiple partner health care providers have indicated that the program has been a positive addition to their practice and experience for their patients.  Beth Peter, MD, a family practitioner shares, "The Reach Out and Read program has been incredible for me as a doctor. Giving a book to an anxious, tired child during a check-up changes the whole atmosphere! It's a way to remind everyone that we're on the same team - a team to help each child get cozy, comfortable, and able to reach their full potential. It's also great to know that the books we provide have a positive impact at home, too. Reading helps the bedtime routine, opens the mind to imaginative play, and strengthens the bond between caregiver and child."

Reach Out and Read (ROR) plays a vital role in our community wide multi-sector strategies for kindergarten readiness.  Linking literacy and health and opening up conversation about child development and learning is crucial for kindergarten readiness.  Transforming healthcare practice culture has been an incredible side effect!


Ready for school info

Written by Ready for School at 11:32

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