Reach Out and Read
Promoting Literacy at Pediatric Clinics
Southwest Human Development brought Reach Out and Read to Maricopa County in 1997. The program currently serves 59 pediatric clinics and distributes nearly 90,000 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 six months to five years of age, 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.