Southwest Human Development brought Reach Out and Read to Maricopa County in 1997. The program currently serves 72 pediatric clinics and distributes over 100,000 new, age-appropriate books to low-income children annually.
Reach Out and Read promotes early literacy by bringing new books and information about the importance of reading aloud into the pediatric exam room. Reach Out and Read targets children who are growing up in poverty and often at risk for reading and school failure.
The concept is simple and includes four basic components:
Pediatricians are trained in the theories of early literacy development and specific strategies to promote literacy in young children. During the well child check-up, they use this knowledge to advise parents on the importance of reading with young children and give them “prescriptions” for reading with their children every day.
At every regularly scheduled well child check-up, from birth to 5 years old, children receive a new, developmentally and culturally appropriate book to take home and keep. Over time, children can receive up to 10 books for their home library.
In literacy-rich waiting room environments, often staffed with volunteer readers, parents and children learn about the pleasures and techniques of looking at books together.
As an added component, gently used books are available in the waiting room for siblings and other children to take home and keep.
Reach Out and Read Works!
Research shows that Reach Out and Read parents are four times more likely to share books with their children.
Children in the Reach Out and Read program show significant increases in language ability, one of the most important predictors of later reading success.
Parents involved in Reach Out and Read are twice as likely to report that reading is one of their child’s favorite activities.
Reach Out and Read is cost-effective, easy to implement and helps give children with limited resources a home environment that stimulates early literacy skills and fosters a love of books and reading.
Reach Out and Read also offers age-appropriate resources for parents, including tips on reading aloud and choosing books for young children.
Reach Out and Read Maricopa County is a member of the Reach Out and Read Arizona Coalition, part of the National Reach Out and Read program, which was created in 1989 at Boston Hospital to help fight illiteracy in impoverished communities.