Reach Out and Read unites doctors, parents and children to build early literacy
When parents take their young children to the doctor for a checkup, they expect to learn how to keep their children healthy and whether they are meeting key physical milestones such as height and weight. But thanks to W.K. Kellogg Foundation grantee Reach Out and Read, families throughout Michigan, Mississippi, and New Mexico also can get help from their medical provider with building early literacy, which studies show is critical to developing reading ability and succeeding in school and life.
More than one-third of American children entering kindergarten today lack the basic language skills they will need to learn to read. Fewer than half of parents in the U.S. read to their young children daily and many parents of vulnerable children may not have easy access to good children's books and may not have been read to as children.
Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes the development of early reading skills and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide bypartnering with nearly 30,000 doctors, nurses and other medical health professionals. When they come in for a regular checkup, children ages 6 months through the age of five—especially children living in poverty—are prescribed a new, developmentally-appropriate book from their primary care provider.
At the same time, their parents are offered age-appropriate reading tips and encouraged to read out loud with their children every day. And in the waiting room, displays, information and books create a literacy-rich environment and volunteer readers often entertain the children and model for parents the pleasures and techniques of reading aloud. Thus, Reach Out and Read also serves as a powerful tool to bond parents with their child.
Fourteen research studies have confirmed that the model, first introduced at Boston Medical Center in 1989, truly works. The 3.9 million families Reach Out and Read now serves annually read together more often, with children entering kindergarten better prepared to succeed with larger vocabularies, stronger language skills and a six-month developmental edge over their preschool peers.
The Kellogg Foundation and Reach Out and Read recently launched a three-year, $1.5 million initiative to partner with child healthcare providers in Michigan, New Mexico and Mississippi to enhance the quality of its programs at 147 existing sites andserve an additional 30,000 children and families at 30 new sites in those three states.
Reach Out and Read is a key part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Education & Learning program. With the goal of increasing the number of children who are reading-and-math proficient by third grade, the foundation has committed to allocating half its investments (approximately $150 million annually) forprograms that promote success by third grade.
Many Reach Out and Read programs in these three states and elsewhere accept donations and volunteers. To find out more about these programs, visit: