Where Great Stories Begin

News, Events, and Updates from Reach Out and Read

American Academy of Pediatrics Honors Dr. Perri Klass

Reach Out and Read National Medical Director, Dr Perri Klass, was honored for her "amazing impact on early childhood development" at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference in San Francisco last week.

perri awardDr. Benard Dreyer, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, presented the Arnold P Gold Foundation Humanism and Medicine Award, which recognizes "an exceptional pediatrician, who not only demonstrates clinical expertise but the humanistic qualities of integrity, compassion, altruism, respect and service."  Dr. Klass was selected for this award by the Council on Communications and Media Pediatrics for the 21st Century planning group for her dedication to her profession and the health of children and the impact that she has made through her writing, service as an educator, and leadership in promoting early literacy through Reach Out and Read.perri1

Dr. Klass is Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University, where she is also Director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She is also well known as an author of several books and for parenting advice in her column, "The Checkup," in the New York Times. "Dr. Klass is a great clinician," said Dr. Dreyer "…. But she is most famous for being one of the originators of the Reach Out and Read program that so many of us [pediatricians] know is one of the major evidence-based programs in primary care. . . . she is now the National Medical Director, really spearheading the spread and the support and the quality improvement of Reach Out and Read."



perri2In receiving her award, Dr. Klass spoke around the theme of "What the doctor sees, is what the writer knows - we live in a world full of stories" and talked about how, through Reach Out and Read, pediatricians have worked together to change and enlarge the practice of pediatrics. "When we give these books to our young patients, when we encourage parents to read with them and trust in the power of that time together, the power of that interaction, that back and forth,…we can help children find their voices, write their own stories and that can change the world."

Reach Out and Read is proud to have Dr. Klass as our National Medical Director, and congratulates her on receiving this prestigious award from her peers and colleagues.

You can watch the full presentation of the award on YouTube.

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

Fill October with literacy-rich activities!

Check out our calendar below for filling October with literacy-rich activities! It is available for download here

 october calendar

Written by Reach Out and Read - Communications at 13:25

A powerful combination of health and education services gives young children a better start at school.

The school year has begun and nearly 50 million children in the U.S. have returned to class. Roughly 3.5 million children have started school for the first time. Unfortunately, at least a third, more than 1 million, of these children will enter kindergarten without either the cognitive or social-emotional skills necessary to start to learn. Research has shown that children who start school at such a disadvantage struggle to catch up - they are more likely to fail third grade reading tests, and less likely to graduate from high school. Many of these children will grow up to live in poverty.

How can we ensure that children start school ready to learn?

Bringing together the health and education sections of our communities creates a powerful combination. It has the capacity to start early and then continue through a child's education and into adult life. AASA, the School Superintendents Association, an organization focused on providing quality public education for all students, and Reach Out and Read, an early literacy organization that works through pediatric care, both work to help prepare children for school right from the start.aasa

A recent article from the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council of Early Childhood and Council on School Health examined the Pediatrician's Role in Optimizing School Readiness and stated "..within the context of a medical home, which provides compassionate, coordinated, family-centered, accessible, and culturally sensitive care, the pediatrician will have a foremost role in monitoring the critical elements of early experiences that foster school readiness."

In our last blog post, Dr Beth Toolan, a pediatrician at Providence Health Centers, wrote about how, as a Reach Out and Read provider, she talks with parents about the importance of reading aloud to their young children, offering them at least one way of giving their infants, toddlers and preschoolers a better start. "Infancy is such a crucial time," she says "And with the Reach Out and Read Program, I am able to access these families when it matters most."

Melinda Smith, Superintendent of North Providence School Department (RI) has written a companion piece describing how, in North Providence, she has helped to lead a "network of community service partners, health care professionals and local pediatricians" that collectively prepare young children for school. From providing a "Little Lending Library" to serving dinner for young siblings when parents collect their children from school, Supt. Smith illustrates how schools can be a community partner and a resource for children ages birth to five and their families. She says "[I have a responsibility as Superintendent] to ensure that our schools connect with families well before children enter our school system to promote healthy lifestyles, provide access to community resources that will all contribute to the breakdown of the roadblocks to learning and give all children an equal chance at school success."

Written by Reach Out and Read - Communications at 14:24

Reach Out and Read Celebrates Read a Book Day 2016

A guest blog celebrating Read a Book Day from Dr. Beth Toolan, Pediatrician at Providence Community Health Centers and Reach Out and Read Rhode Island Provider of the Year.

Reading opens the door to a world of possibilities. It promotes creative thinking, imagination, and encourages children to move outside themselves and understand others. From the Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss's characters, to Winnie the Pooh, Skippy John Jones, Nancy Drew, Captain Underpants, and now Harry Potter, these books weave a tapestry that connects parents to children and joins families to communities.


I work at Providence Community Health Centers, an inner city clinic, and my patients are low income, culturally diverse, and often unable to read or speak English. As a Reach Out and Read provider, I know that talking about the importance of reading aloud to young children offers families at least one way of giving their infants, toddlers and preschoolers a better start. We know that children's brains begin developing rapidly from birth. There is so much data supporting the fact that reading to children from infancy promotes language development, brain growth, and school readiness. It has also been shown to improve behavior, attention and social-emotional development. Infancy is a crucial time, and with the Reach Out and Read Program, I am able to access these families when it matters most. 



There are so many examples of how the Reach Out and Read program has impacted individuals. One young mother of an 18-month-old girl showed up at her visit having taken the bus from the residential substance abuse program where they were staying. When I entered the room for her visit, she had several of the books I had given her at past visits out on the exam table, and she told me they were her daughter's favorite things. Despite having to travel on the bus, she brought these valuable things with her to entertain her daughter, and was delighted to get her next book to share with her daughter.  Another joyful example of how this program impacts patients involved a three-year-old child of two teenage parents. I had given her an ABC book at her request while I examined her younger sister. I turned to see her sitting on her teenage father's lap, turning the pages of the book, animatedly pointing out the pictures and explaining it to him, while he listened attentively.


On September 6, National Read a Book Day, I encourage everyone not only to experience the joys of reading a book for yourself, but to share books with your young children to give them a foundation for success.

Written by Reach Out and Read - Communications at 10:26

Breaking News! The New York Times Sunday Review

Dear Reach Out and Read supporter,


I am writing to draw your attention to an article that ran last Sunday in the New York Times Sunday Review section, which cited Reach Out and Read as part of an important-and encouraging-trend that is big news for children and parents in this country, and should help and encourage us all in the work we do. "The Good News About Educational Inequality," was authored by two professors of education and a professor of social work.  In this piece, they discuss the apparent paradox that the performance gap between high-income and low-income children has begun to shrink, even though the economic inequality is worsening.  In other words, they explain, "Children entering kindergarten today are more equally prepared than they were in the late 1990s."


This improvement, they argue, is directly related to the parenting practices which help low-income children:  "What has changed is that low-income children are now getting more of what the political scientist Robert Putnam calls " 'Goodnight Moon' time" than they did in the 1990s. That's excellent news."


They go on to raise the question of how this came about, in the setting of increasing income inequality, and here is what they say: "We suspect that in part this happened because of the widespread diffusion of a single powerful idea: that the first few years of a child's life are the most consequential for cognitive development."  They point out that the achievement gap grew, in part, because of the ways that high-income parents "invested" in the cognitive development of their young children.  The article goes on:  "Why are low-income families now adopting these parenting practices? It may be partly a result of public information campaigns like Reach Out and Read...."  You can read the full article here. The authors are Sean F. ReardonJane Waldfogel, and Daphna Bassok.


 nyt sunday review

As you know, we've been doing Reach Out and Read for 27 years now, and we've had a widespread network for almost two decades and continue to expand rapidly.  Reading this article will give you a sense of how experts in other fields are measuring some of the most important outcomes that we are trying to affect every day in our exam rooms.  It's wonderful to see evidence that the education gap is narrowing, even if the income gap is not-that low-income children are coming to school with better skills and a better chance.  And it's great to see the efforts and dedication of all those parents acknowledged as the key factor that we know it to be-that "Goodnight Moon" time which does so much for children in so many ways.


When the authors of this essay cite us as one of the key interventions in getting out the message to parents, it's a recognition of the time and effort that you have put in to build and support this network, and to help pediatric primary care providers deliver the message, the anticipatory guidance, the modeling, and the books to so many parents all around the United States, to help them do what they all want to do-give their children the best possible start.


As the authors say of Reach Out and Read and Too Small to Fail, "these campaigns represent an effort to ensure that our knowledge about the unique importance of early childhood helps everyone. Like a new medical innovation that is first adopted by the wealthy but then becomes commonplace, the emphasis on public and private investments in young children has helped turn a benefit for the rich into an equalizing force in society."


We want to celebrate this news with you, our partners, and our supporters-above all, to celebrate what parents are doing for their children, and the ways that the children's skills are improving-though, as the article points out, there is still a long way to go, and educating parents needs to be part of larger initiatives to reduce inequalities and disparities. We are proud to be acknowledged as part of this good news, and eager to work with you and your networks-and through them with families and clinicians-to go on making things better.



Perri Klass, M.D.
National Medical Director
Reach Out and Read 


Written by Perri Klass at 00:00

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