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When a Book is More than the Story Inside

The official definition of a book is "a collection of printed pages bound inside a cover", but we all know that a book is so much more than that. A book can have many different meanings, depending on whose hands are holding it. For some, it is an escape from the humdrum of everyday life, for some, a journey into worlds they would not otherwise experience, and for others, a source of valuable information, ideas and opinions that enrich their lives. 

When a Book is More than the Story Inside

The books that Reach Out and Read doctors and nurses give to a young child at their well-child visit are more than the story inside!  They are a tool used to encourage parents to read aloud regularly to their young children, a means of improving early literacy skills in the communities they serve, a way of leveling the playing fields.

Mounting evidence shows that what happens in infancy and toddlerhood sets the stage for achievement later in life.  Improving literacy skills during a child's first five years, a critical period of brain development, is an effective way of helping all children to enter school with the foundations for success at school and life beyond.

The Reach Out and Read program builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop early reading skills in children. At each well-child visit, our doctors and nurses give their young patients a new book to take home, along with age-appropriate guidance to parents about the importance of reading aloud to their infants and toddlers.

In many cases, the book given at a well-child visit is the first book the family has ever owned, and becomes a much-treasured story. One doctor told us:

"We care for many low-income families, and I love bringing a book in for a toddler and watching the parents' reaction to the child's face lighting up when he or she receives the book. By 18 months of age, it's so obvious that the children have been read to on a consistent basis."

By the time a child enters kindergarten, they have a home library of at least 10 books, and parents who read aloud to them to make these books come alive.

 

Written by Nikki Shearman at 10:00

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

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