Reach Out and Read

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where great stories begin

Books are more than the stories inside. They’re a key to unlocking the potential in every child. That’s where Reach Out and Read steps in. We prepare America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. We’re helping to ensure school readiness and positive outcomes for all children. Southeast Louisiana AHEC has partnered with Reach Out and Read since 2010.

Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national non-profit organization that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud in pediatric exam rooms across the nation. The mission is to advise parents about the importance of reading aloud and to give books to children at pediatric check-ups from six months to five years of age. A special focus is placed on children growing up in poverty. By building on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers, Reach Out and Read helps families and communities cultivate early literacy skills so that children enter school prepared to succeed at reading.
Doctors and nurses know that growing up healthy means growing up with books. The ROR program provides the tools to help promote children’s developmental skills and later school success. Southeast LA AHEC has developed five ROR sites in the southeast region, including Mandeville Pediatrics, LSU Bogalusa Clinic, Lallie Kemp Medical Center, MultiPractice Clinic in Independence, and Kentwood Pediatrics.

Most American Parents Are Not Reading to Their Children Daily

  • Fewer than half (48 percent) of young children in the United States are read to daily. Russ S, Perez V, Garro N, Klass P, Kuo AA, Gershun M, Halfon N, Zuckerman, B. Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook (2007): Reach Out and Read National Center, Boston, MA.
  • In virtually every state, minority and low-income children are less likely to be read to every day than their non-minority and higher income peers. Russ S, Perez V, Garro N, Klass P, Kuo AA, Gershun M, Halfon N, Zuckerman, B. Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook (2007): Reach Out and Read National Center, Boston, MA.
  • As a result of this and other factors, many children from low-income families enter kindergarten with a listening vocabulary of 3,000 words, while children of middle/upper-income families enter school with a listening vocabulary of 20,000 words. Hart, B. Risley, T. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children (1995), Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
  • Proficiency in reading by the end of third grade is a crucial marker in a child’s education development. A stunning 68 percent of fourth graders in public school were reading below proficient levels in 2011. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2012 Kids Count Data Book, State Trends in Child Well-Being.

Why Some Parents Don’t Read

  • Families living in poverty often lack the money to buy new books, as well as access to libraries.
  • Parents who may not have been read to as children themselves may not realize the value of reading to their own children.
  • So many families struggle with balancing the busy demands of work, extracurricular activities, and involvement in their communities. Together with more recent pulls toward social media and other screen activities, parents often face “time poverty,” and find it difficult to carve out time to read with their children.
  • Children’s early school performance improves when their parents are involved in helping them learn to read. Yet, many parents do not have the skills to read to their children.

Why Reach Out and Read Is an Effective Intervention

  • A trusted messenger: Parents trust and value the advice they receive from their child’s medical provider. Reach Out and Read is unique in partnering with the child’s first medical provider, in the special setting of the pediatric health examination to promote a child’s literacy.
  • Broad scope and reach: Participating medical providers offer the Reach Out and Read intervention to all children at each well-child visit from 6 months through 5 years of age. Most children see their pediatrician at least 10 times during this period.
  • Hope for educational success: Reach Out and Read explicitly ties reading aloud to later school success; this strategy supports the aspiration that parents have for their children.
  • An army of volunteers: The Reach Out and Read intervention is delivered by a team of 12,000 volunteer doctors, nurses, medical staff, and caring adults. Because all Reach Out and Read doctors and nurses volunteer the time they spend on early literacy, the intervention is extremely cost effective.
  • Stretching every dollar: Deep discounts from publishers, as well as an innovative bulk-purchasing program, enable Reach Out and Read to buy more than twice as many books as it could at standard retail pricing.  This enables us to serve many more children, at a cost of just $50 total per child for the full five years.

If you would like to become a part of Reach Out and Read Program please contact us.