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Reach Out and Read is Collaborating with Save the Children to Support Early Childhood Literacy in Rural America

Reach Out and Read has recently embarked on an exciting joint initiative with Save the Children to support and foster children's education and wellbeing in some of the United States' most impoverished and isolated regions. Funded by a $4.2 million federal grant from the Department of Education's Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program, the Building Child-Centered Communities in Rural America project uses a collective approach to develop and improve literacy skills for children from birth through 10 years old. The two-year program will focus on 30 isolated communities in four states, South Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona, where access to quality early learning opportunities is often the most difficult.

There is an ever-growing achievement gap in America that starts in early childhood. It is well established that children who are unable to read on grade-level by the fourth grade are unlikely to ever catch up, and in rural areas, where resources are few and far between, nearly half of school children fail to meet this benchmark. The best way to improve the chances for lifelong success is to reach children in the first five years of life, a critical time period when 90% of all brain development occurs. The interventions in early childhood can then be reinforced through school-age programs.

IAL grant

The Building Child-Centered Communities in Rural America project is grounded on the core premise that collaboration between organizations results in a collective impact that is essential for effecting lasting change. It will surround children in an integrated structure of home, school, and community resources, aligning a continuum of services from birth through 10 years old.

Reach Out and Read medical providers in the 30 communities participating in this project will reach over 16,000 children from birth through five yearsof age. They will give a new, developmentally-appropriate book to infants and toddlers at each well-child visit, along with advice to parents about the benefits of reading aloud to their children every day. Research has shown that parents who have been given this advice by their pediatrician or family physician read to their children more often, and their children's language scores are improved. This is an important intervention in communities where many children are not enrolled in early education programs.

To reinforce this message, every family participating in Save the Children's home visitation program, Early Steps to School Success, will receive high-quality, age-appropriate children's books to ensure that each family is able to build their own library and help their children develop a love of reading.


Save the Children already provides additional support for these children as they reach school through donations of $4,000 to $6,000 worth of books for school-age programming. This project will allow for the additional provision of:

  • $10,000 worth of books, tablets and e-books for each school
  • Afterschool literacy, physical activity and nutrition programs
  • Parent-child events
  • Training and technical assistance.

As the final piece in this multi-faceted project, a Community Literacy Manager will be hired locally to increase community collaboration in this far-reaching project, and to build local capacity and leadership for deeper impact and sustainability.

Supporting early childhood literacy education through the interacting approaches supported by this grant will have far-reaching outcomes:

  • Communities that have the capacity to support early child literacy
  • Families that are connected to schools, libraries and community organizations
  • Parents and caregivers that have the knowledge and skills to support their children's development
  • Children who enter school with the skills for success.

It feels good to work together!

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Written by Reach Out and Read - Communications at 10:00

Half a Million New Children's Books Will be Distributed through Reach Out and Read to Help Close the Word Gap

Scholastic donation 1

In the past few weeks, thousands of new children's books have been arriving at Reach Out and Read program sites across America. This is the first shipment of 500,000 books donated by Scholastic as part of a national collaboration to promote early language development announced at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting last year. 

Reach Out and Read is partnering with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Scholastic and Too Small to Fail, using a multi-pronged approach to ensure that doctors and nurses have the information, tools, and books they need to help families make reading aloud with their children a daily activity.

Research shows that a child's first three years offer a critically important window for brain development. Reading aloud, talking, singing and rhyming every day during these early years helps young children reach their full potential. 

However, the Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition, conducted by Scholastic and YouGov, shows that 50% more parents from highest-income households versus lowest-income households have received advice that children should be read aloud to from birth - a recent recommendation from AAP. Further, additional research has found that by age four, children in poverty hear 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers. 

Scholastic donation 2

Medical caregivers have a unique opportunity to help close this word gap. Through the trusting relationship that doctors and nurses have with their patients, they are able to influence parents from all income levels and provide them with information on how reading aloud from birth will benefit their children.

The books have been received with great excitement by Reach Out and Read doctors and program coordinators, who appreciate the impact that these books will have on the families they serve.

"The donated books we received will be distributed among our clinics and given to children in need, many of whom do not regularly have access to books. Your support inspires us to continue working towards the shared goal of fostering both literacy development and a love of reading that will invaluably benefit them for the rest of their lives." Rosie Ball and Janie Klapko, Reach Out and Read, Michigan

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Written by Nikki Shearman at 00:00

Two Dynamic “Prescribe A Book” Advocates Join the Reach Out and Read Board

The Reach Out and Read Board of Directors is very pleased to welcome two new members, Dipesh Navsaria and Susan Hildreth, who both bring their extraordinary talent and vision to the organization. Dipesh and Susan are both strong Reach Out and Read advocates, and are characterized by their ability to think across boundaries, using their respective specialties in pediatric medicine and librarianship to influence the field of early childhood literacy.

Dipesh photo

Dipesh Navsaria is a one-of-a-kind primary-care pediatrician, with degrees in public health and children's librarianship, along with his work in child health advocacy. He is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, Founder and Director of Pediatric Early Literacy Projects at the University of Wisconsin, and founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

According to his website, Dipesh is a "siruclast" - his own term for someone who thinks broadly and makes connections via different schools of thought and approaches to problems.  His website also explains why he's often seen wearing a bowtie - six reasons starting with "They're refreshingly distinctive…"

Earlier this month, Dipesh was selected to join the 2015 class of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows in recognition of his work building "economic security, educational success, and health and well-being for low-income families in the US."

"As an undergraduate research assistant, I worked down the hall from the location where Reach Out and Read first began at Boston City Hospital," says Dipesh.  "As both the program and I have 'grown up', it's a delight to have remained involved and to now serve the national organization in this capacity."

Susan Hildreth has had a more than 30-year-long distinguished career in the leadership of public libraries. After positions as the City Librarian of San Francisco Public Library, State Librarian of California and the City Librarian of Seattle Public Library, in 2011 President Obama swore her into a four-year term as Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Susan Hildreth

At IMLS, Susan developed grant programs and initiatives to provide $857,241,000 for museum and library programs that supported lifelong learning, with a strong emphasis on early learning, STEM-related projects and connectivity.

A firm believer in collective impact - "what we can accomplish when we partner effectively with each other to address society's needs,"  - Susan is interested in continuing to promote connections between early learning and libraries. She led efforts to integrate Reach Out and Read with California public libraries, and has helped Reach Out and Read negotiate a grant that will improve collaboration with libraries and museums to better serve local communities.

"Reach Out and Read is making a big difference in the lives of children across America," said Susan. "Reach Out and Read and libraries are natural partners to enrich reading opportunities for families and I hope to strengthen those connections."

We are thrilled to have such uniquely qualified and passionate advocates join our board!

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Written by Nikki Shearman at 00:00

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