Reach Out and Read Program
By Emelie Williams
Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to reach aloud together.
A third of young children, and HALF of children living in poverty, in the US arrive at kindergarten without the skills that they need for success at school. Students who enter kindergarten with below grade level reading skills have a much higher chance of dropping out of school later in life.
By giving young children a foundation for success, we are helping children overcome income inequality.
What happens during the first few years sets the stage for the rest of a child’s life. More than 95 percent of a child’s brain is formed during this critical period, and a child’s experiences irreversibly affects how the brain develops—for better or worse.
Positive, responsive caregiving during the early years creates the strong parent-child bonds that promote healthy brain development. Reach Out and Read doctors and nurse practitioners have the greatest access to families with children in the early years, when it counts. More than 92 percent of children under the age of six attend routine pediatric visits at least once a year.
At more than 10 routine health checkups from infancy through 5 years, Reach Out and Read trained providers:
• Talk with parents about how important it is to read aloud and engage with their young children
• Demonstrate how best to look at books and talk about the stories
• Encourage them to cuddle up and read together at home and build routines around books
• And then give a new book to the child to take home and keep
At the end of the program, every child has a home library of books, each given with the advice to parents that they are their child’s first and most important teacher. Because medical providers are trusted professionals for families, by modeling reading, more patients will begin reading more activity at home. By being read aloud to, basic language skills expand.
Parents are 2.5 times more likely to read at home after exposure to Reach Out and Read.