Research Findings

A proven early literacy intervention.

What distinguishes Reach Out and Read from other interventions is its large and growing evidence base. Since 1991, the Reach Out and Read model has been studied by academic investigators in a variety of settings, providing an extensive body of peer-reviewed research on the effects of the program. The body of published research supporting the efficacy of the Reach Out and Read model is more extensive than for any other psychosocial intervention in general pediatrics. Additional studies that address language outcomes in children are in progress.

Key Findings

  • Parents served by Reach Out and Read are up to four times more likely to read aloud to their children.
  • Reach Out and Read reaches the child through effectively teaching the parent to start lifelong learning in the home.
  • During the preschool years, children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These early foundational language skills help start children on a path of success when they enter school.

Read the complete Reach Out and Read Research Summary (PDF) 

Complete Studies

Mendelsohn et al., Pediatrics
High-risk urban families participating in Reach Out and Read read more frequently to their children. Children exposed to Reach Out and Read had higher receptive language scores (mean: 94.5 vs. 84.8) and expressive language scores (mean: 84.3 vs. 81.6). Increased exposure to Reach Out and Read led to larger increases in language scores (receptive and expressive). Read the complete study. (PDF) 

High et al., Pediatrics
Families participating in the Reach Out and Read model were more likely to read to their children (4.3 vs. 3.8 days/week), and their toddlers' receptive and expressive vocabulary scores were higher, even when adjusting for parental education, foreign-born status, and language proficiency. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

Needlman et al., Ambulatory Pediatrics
In a multicenter study, families exposed to Reach Out and Read were more likely to report reading aloud at bedtime, to read aloud three or more days per week, mention reading aloud as a favorite parenting activity, and own 10 or more children's books. Read the complete study. (PDF)

Theriot et al., Clinical Pediatrics
Among children aged 33 months to 39 months attending a well-child clinic in Louisville, KY, expressive and receptive language scores were significantly associated with both the number of Reach Out and Read-enhanced well-child visits they had attended, and with the number of books purchased for them by their parents. This finding supports a "dose effect" for the Reach Out and Read intervention: the more Reach Out and Read, the higher the score. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

Weitzman et al., Pediatrics
In a study using direct observation of children's homes, parents were more likely to read aloud to their children and enjoy reading together when their families had more encounters with the Reach Out and Read program. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

Diener et al., Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education
This study showed  that a small sample of Latino children who participated in Reach Out and Read from six months of age had average or above average literacy skills by the end of kindergarten, as well as high-quality home literacy environments. Read the complete study. (PDF)

Silverstein et al., Pediatrics
English and non English speaking families who participated in the Reach Out and Read model increased their weekly bedtime reading, and more parents reported reading as their own or their child's favorite activity. For non English speaking families the number of children's books in the home also increased as a result of the Reach Out and Read model. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

Sharif et al., Journal of the National Medical Association
Children participating in Reach Out and Read had higher receptive vocabulary scores (mean: 81.5 vs. 74.3). They also had higher scores on the Home Literacy Orientation (measured reading to child and number of books in the home) than children not participating in Reach Out and Read. Read the complete  study. (PDF) 

Sanders et al., Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Hispanic parents participating in Reach Out and Read were more likely to report reading to their children compared to other parents. When parents read more frequently to their children, they were also more likely to read frequently themselves. Read the complete  study. (PDF) 

Golova et al., Pediatrics
Hispanic parents whose children had received bilingual books, educational materials and literacy-promoting anticipatory guidance were more likely to report reading books with their child at least three days/week (66% vs. 24%) and report that reading books was one of their three favorite things to do with their child (43% vs. 13%) than parents in a control group. Parents participating in the Reach Out and Read model intervention also tended to have more books in the home (for children and adults). Read the complete study. (PDF) 

High et al., Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Parents whose children (< three years) had received books and educational materials during well-child visits were more likely than parents in a control group to report that they shared books with their children, and to cite sharing books as a favorite activity or a child's favorite activity. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

Needlman, et al., American Journal of Diseases of Children
Parents who had received a book as part of Reach Out and Read were more likely to report reading books with their children, or to say that reading was a favorite activity. The benefits of Reach Out and Read were larger for families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

Jones et al., Clinical Pediatrics
Parents participating in Reach Out and Read were more likely to rate their child's pediatrician as helpful than those not participating. Pediatricians in the Reach Out and Read group were more likely to rate parents as receptive than those in the non-Reach Out and Read group. Mothers in the Reach Out and Read group were two times more likely to report enjoyment in reading together with their child than those in the non-Reach Out and Read group. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

King et al., Academic Pediatrics
Successful implementation of the Reach Out and Read program was related to the culture of the clinic. Staff at clinics that struggled to implement Reach Out and Read found their jobs burdensome and reported lacks in communication. Staff at successful Reach Out and Read Sites worked as a team and expressed strong commitments to their communities. Read the complete study. (PDF) 

Byington et al., Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
This qualitative study examined the thank-you notes sent to staff at a Reach Out and Read clinic by Hispanic families. Families expressed thanks for the books received, as well as the literacy advice given by doctors and nurses. Many families believed that the books and advice promoted the habit of reading and demonstrated respect the staff held for the families and their children. Read the complete  study. (PDF) 

Awards & Endorsements Recognition for Reach Out and Read's Impact Nationwide.
Endorsed By American Academy of Pediatrics
Award Winner 2013 David M. Rubenstein Prize
Endorsed by National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Literacy Partner American Academy of Family Physicians
Contact Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read National Center
56 Roland Street, Suite 100D
Boston, MA 02129-1243

Parent Resources

A Prescription to Read 20 Minutes Every Day.

Suggested Reading:


Title: Polar Bear
Author: Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
Reading To Your Eighteen To Twenty-Four Month Old

Rhyming texts, with their repeated patterns, increase your child's awareness of how language works. Rhymes help your children begin to decode the sounds that make up words. 

View all