Where Great Stories Begin

News, Events, and Updates from Reach Out and Read

Fables and Folklore: Stories that Teach Kids Lessons

A guest blog written by Rachelle Wilber, a freelance writer.

Today, fairy tales may just be something your kids want to hear over and over again before bedtime, but modern stories that are beloved by children like the wildly acclaimed "Frozen" can be traced back thousands of years. Some of the earliest and most recognized fables such as Aesop's Fables, originated around 550 BC. In times where wisdom, not academia, constituted education, fables were not just a form of entertainment, but a method of teaching. Children were given warnings, taught morals, and introduced to concepts such as enmity, forgiveness and love in a manner that was as memorable as it was entertaining.

Origins of Fables


People told one another stories before language had even been invented. Cave drawings prove that humanity's oldest ancestors communicated through story-like concepts, and as mankind evolved, symbols scrawled in stone became words that were interwoven to create characters and new worlds, all grounded in a meaningful story.

The best-known Western fables can mostly be attributed to a slave from ancient Greece named Aesop. Fables such as "The Lion and the Mouse" and "The Tortoise and the Hare" that are used today to teach children about the importance of diligence and discernment came from Aesop. The principles that underscored every fable was a formula that spread throughout the Western world and is evident in other famous fables and folklore such as the iconic Grimm's Fairy Tales and the deeply cherished, unforgettable stories of Hans Christian Andersen.

Folklore vs. Fable

Although the two words are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between "folklore" and "fables." Folklore is a story that has been passed down through generations orally. Folklore usually features people as its main characters and carries a large twist at the end, while fables usually involve animals or mythical creatures as its protagonists and deliver a specific moral.

In one sentence, a fable is a very real lesson taught through fantasy, and folklore is an entertaining story that changes from culture to culture, just like the people within them. You're never too old for fairy tales, and teaching children the most beloved stories of the past cultivates a love of history that can lead them down wonderful paths both academically and personally. Just like grandpa earned an online history degree, children can pursue their new interests throughout a variety of ways over the course of their lives.

Teaching Children through Fables

fables2Many parents are concerned that reading fantasy to their children might lead them to develop overactive imaginations or skewed perceptions of reality, but what's wonderful about fables, fairy tales and folklore is that they reach children on a level they're able to understand. Children possess the magical quality of being able to appreciate both the real and imagined equally. You can pick and choose - or even invent - fables that fit the specific themes in your child's life right now.

No matter which direction you go in, there is something wonderfully potent about hearing fables and folklore growing up that imbues childhood with a sense of wonder that forever lives in the back of our minds as memories and manifests itself in our choices.

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

Helping Children Understand, Discuss, and Process the Election Through Books

A booklist produced jointly by the American Academy of Pediatrics and 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

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