Reach Out and Read Rhode Island Mission
Reach Out and Read Rhode Island prepares the state’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups, by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally-appropriate books to children. The program begins at the 6-month checkup and continues through age 5, with a special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities. Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.
Reach Out and Read was developed by pediatricians and early childhood educators who recognized that early exposure to books and reading greatly increases a child’s chance for healthy development and school success.
A national nonprofit organization since 1989 now reaching nearly 4.5 million low-income families each year, Reach Out and Read builds on the unique relationship between doctors and patients to spread the message that reading aloud is the most important thing parents can do to help their children love books and start school ready to learn. With more than 5,500 participating programs across the nation, 66 of those here in Rhode Island, Reach Out and Read teaches millions of families the importance of reading aloud.
The Reach Out and Read Rhode Island Coalition began in 1999 with a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation. Five Reach Out and Read Programs existed in Rhode Island at that time. Today, there are 66 programs statewide and the Coalition continues to grow steadily.
For a listing of Reach Out and Read Rhode Island sites click here.
The need for early literacy intervention is dire, especially for our youngest children. Struggles with literacy impact nearly every aspect of a child’s life, increasing the risk of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy — all of which perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.
- 34% of children entering kindergarten today lack the basic language skills they will need to learn to read.
- Fewer than half of parents (48%) in the United States read to their younger children daily.
- Parents of children living in poverty may lack the money to buy books, may not have easy access to good children’s books, and may not themselves have been read to as children, with the result that millions of children are growing up without books.
Pediatric healthcare providers (including pediatricians, family physicians, and pediatric nurse practitioners) are trained in the three-part Reach Out and Read model to promote early literacy and school readiness:
- In the exam room, doctors and nurses speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud to their young children every day, and offer age-appropriate tips and encouragement.
- The pediatric primary care provider gives every child between 6 months and 5 years of age a new, developmentally-appropriate children’s book.
Reach Out and Read builds literacy-rich waiting room environments often featuring volunteer readers, where parents and children can experience the joys of looking at books together.
- As a result of this three-part intervention at the doctor’s office, parents become more engaged and read to their children more often at home. The time spent reading translates into quantifiable gains: Our evidence base of 15 peer-reviewed research studies shows that 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 propel children on a path of success when they enter school.
In June 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared literacy promotion to be an “essential component of pediatric care” for all children, referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention to engage parents and prepare children to achieve their potential in school and beyond.
Download a description of the Reach Out and Read model (PDF).