New article The Elephant in the Clinic examines the
multifaceted role of Reach Out and Read in the promotion of early
literacy and family well-being through primary healthcare.
may have heard the Indian parable in which a group of blind men
attempt to identify an elephant, each of them describing it from
their own perspective as they feel what is in front of them. In
The Elephant in the Clinic: Early Literacy and Family
Well-Being, Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MLSIS, MD and Amy
Shriver, MD, examine Reach Out and Read using this parable as a
metaphor - early literacy promotion is more than a mere
clinic-based book giveaway.
With a powerful mix of
storytelling, scientific evidence, and data, this report presents
the various perspectives of the Reach Out and Read model, an
approach by which primary care providers promote family engagement
and early literacy during well-child checkups. Viewed through
different lenses, this intervention is a book giveaway, a school
readiness, and a public health program; it helps clinicians to
build parental capacities, and conduct developmental and relational
surveillance; it buffers toxic stress in families; it is
inexpensive, scalable, and evidence-based.
Full of beautiful photographs,
quotes, helpful anecdotes, and information boxes, the Elephant
in the Clinic shows how, just as the blind men needed to
examine the elephant from all angles to identify it, the true value
of Reach Out and Read can only be appreciated by considering all of
its various facets. It illustrates how the depth and diversity of
Reach Out and Read helps to "fulfill the promise of child health
supervision visits - to provide expertise, tools, and guidance that
positively shape the home environment and, ultimately, improve
family and child health outcomes."
With advances in our understanding
around the significance of the word gap between high- and
low-income families and the impacts of toxic stress on parents and
their children, we cannot afford to ignore this model, with the
national potential to expand opportunities for all families.
This article is the result of a
partnership between the Ascend Network of the
Aspen Institute and Reach Out and Read; Dr. Navsaria is a Reach
Out and Read National Center board member and medical advisor and
Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin, as well as a
member of the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows' 2015 class, and Dr.
Shriver is Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Iowa.