When we look back on our childhood, many of us have fond
memories of being read to, of snuggling up and enjoying a favorite
story with the people who love us. And it's not so much the story
that we remember, but the feeling of love and security that it gave
It turns out that reading aloud, a time-honored
tradition in so many families, is actually a wonderful way of
helping children to reach their full potential:
Reading aloud is a great way of engaging with young
What happens during the first few years sets the stage for the
rest of a child's life. It is a time when a child's experiences
irreversibly affect how the brain develops - for better or worse.(
Nurturing from a loving parent or caregiver in the early years
supports healthy brain development that forms the foundation for
success later at school and in life - and one of the best ways of
engaging with young children is through looking at books together.
Even the youngest baby loves to be held close and hear the voice of
Mom or Dad as they read a book aloud.
Our nonprofit literacy program helps
Reading aloud promotes language development and early literacy
It is widely accepted that reading aloud is the
single most important researched activity leading to language
development and promotes early literacy skills ( 2, 3), such as:
- Book handling and naming
- Understanding how stories work
- Recognition of sounds and letters
- Knowledge of a wide range of vocabulary
- Ability to listen
Even young babies can benefit from read aloud practices!
All of these skills are
essential as children start school and learn to
- Builds motivation, curiosity and
- Helps children cope during times of stress or anxiety
- Take children to places and times they have never been -
enlarging and enhancing their worlds
- Creates a positive association with books and
Despite all of the benefits of reading aloud, surveys show that
only a half of parents read to their young children daily (2) and less than 10 percent read to their
children from infancy (4). Families living in poverty are
significantly less likely to read aloud to their infants and
toddlers ( 2)
Our reading program operates at home
and in waiting rooms!
This is where Reach Out and Read comes in!
At Reach Out and Read, we believe that
ALL families should have the tools and information
needed to make reading aloud a daily routine, that
ALL children should be given a foundation for
success at school and beyond.
Reach Out and Read doctors and nurse practitioners deliver the
program at routine pediatric checkups, so that we have repeated and
unparalleled access to families with children from birth through
five years. More than 91% of children under the age of six
attend well child checkups each year (5).
Even handling books develops school
readiness in infants!
Many of the families that Reach Out
and Read serves do not have any books at home. We give each child a
new developmentally-appropriate book to take home with them - and
for those parents, whose first language is not English, we offer
books in 12 different languages. Books can even be useful for
parents who don't read - we encourage them to talk about the story
that the pictures tell. We also encourage partnerships between
Reach Out and Read sites and their local libraries, to expand the
selection of books available for families to read aloud.