Reach Out and Read - More Than Just Handing Out a Book
Literacy is the "single most significant factor" affecting a
child's academic success, according to the National Commission on
Reading. Children who enter kindergarten without the basic language
skills required for reading--an alarming 34% of all
kindergarteners--start school at a tremendous disadvantage. Studies
show that over 88% of children who have difficulty reading at the
end of first grade are still struggling at the end of fourth grade.
Fourth grade is a benchmark year, because that is when children
must transition from "learning to read" to "reading to
learn." In Connecticut, 57% of our 4th graders, 81% of those living
below the poverty threshold, fail to develop reading proficiency by
the end of 4th grade.
Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success
by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families
to read aloud together. We leverage two extraordinary forces
to improve early literacy and educational outcomes: the power
of parents and the influence of pediatricians. The Reach Out
and Read model provides parents with personalized, age-appropriate
advice about books and reading at every well-child visit from birth
through 5 years, along with a new developmentally and culturally
appropriate book starting at the 6 month visit. Books are used by
the medical provider at the beginning of the visit during
developmental surveillance, and as a vehicle to offer concrete
guidance to parents. Armed with this guidance, parents make reading
aloud a part of their daily routines.
A pediatrician like Connecticut Children's Medical Center's Dr.
Catherine Wiley sees about 110 low-income children weekly for
routine well-child exams. In addition to having their
physical development evaluated, those children also walk away with
a prescription designed to boost their brain development and
prepare them for school. That "prescription" is a book.
Dr. Wiley is one of nearly 400 medical providers across
Connecticut who are "prescribing reading" as part of their
partnership with Reach Out and Read. Designed to develop critical
early literacy skills and a love of reading, Reach Out and Read
reaches 40,000 children and their families in Connecticut through
72 clinical locations.
The concept is incredibly simple. Take a child from a low-income
family where books can be rare and parents often too stressed or
lacking the knowledge to spend time on reading. When the
pediatrician sees that child, she "prescribes" an appropriate book
and guides the parents on reading with the child daily. The
results are amazing.
Because the book has been prescribed almost as if it were a
medication, parents are far more likely to make reading aloud a
part of their daily routine. As a result, young children in at-risk
homes can build their literacy and oral language skills earlier and
become better prepared for school - as they learn the joy of
reading. Today, some 21,000 medical providers across the
country volunteer their time to deliver the program through 5,500
clinical locations in all 50 states reaching over 4.5 million
children and families.
Reach Out and Read is far more than a book give-away program. It
is a national leader in school readiness and unique among all other
early literacy interventions. As the only early literacy nonprofit
that works through pediatricians, we have unparalleled access to
young children and their parents. By using the existing
healthcare structure, with doctors volunteering their time, our
costs remain low at only $100 per child for the full 5 years of our
Among the many anticipatory guidance items medical providers
have on their checklist, Reach Out and Read has the best evidence
base; 15 research studies, published in
medical journals, show the efficacy of our work. Our
model is the only anticipatory guidance activity proven to promote
child development and the only program promoted by the American
Academy of Pediatrics as a model for literacy development by
medical providers. When you participate in Reach Out and Read,
you address a critical need with a successful model. Children
served by Reach Out and Read are read to more often, have better
expressive and receptive language skills and are better prepared
for success in school.
For a complete list of program sites in the state of
Connecticut, click here.
To learn more about the important work that we do across the
state and nationally, watch our video (above) or here.
A HUGE THANK YOU to Buzz Media
Company for donating their time and expertise to
produce this video for us. It is fabulous! Thank you!