Reach Out and Read

The Importance of Early Childhood Literacy

Did you know that 35% of American children arrive at kindergarten without the basic language skills they need to learn to read? Those critical early literacy skills include recognizing the letters of the alphabet, understanding that books move from left to right, and being able to understand and tell stories.

Despite the billions of dollars Americans have invested in remedial reading programs, those millions of children who enter school unprepared are highly likely to never catch up. In fact, 88% of first graders who are below grade level in reading will continue to read below grade level in fourth grade (Juel, 1988).  And reading difficulty contributes to school failure, which increases the risk of absenteeism, dropping out, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy – all of which perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.

The answer is to promote literacy in the critical years before children enter school, when interventions can have the most dramatic impact. In fact, Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman found that economic returns on dollars invested in early education are as high as 15-17% per year – higher than other traditional economic development strategies.

Reach Out and Read promotes early literacy and school readiness with a research-tested, evidence-based model that’s proven to help children develop the language skills they will need to learn to read and succeed in school.  Since 1991, the ROR model has been studied by academic investigators in a variety of settings, providing a growing body of peer-reviewed research on the effects of the program. The body of published research supporting the efficacy of the ROR model is more extensive than for any other psychosocial intervention in general pediatrics.

Key findings:

  • Parents served by ROR are up to four times more likely to read aloud to their children.
  • Children served by ROR show significant developmental gains in language and a six-month developmental edge over their peers in the preschool years.
  • Children served by ROR also score higher on vocabulary tests and school readiness assessments.

How this program works:

Northwest Pediatric Center is proud to partner with Reach Out and Read, one of the nation’s few truly effective, evidence-based early literacy programs aimed at preparing kids to succeed in school.  Reach Out and Read is a simple yet highly effective program based in medical offices which features three key elements:

  • Volunteers read with children in the waiting room; a literacy-rich environment encourages reading and book-sharing;
  • Pediatric health care providers educate parents about the importance of reading with their children every day, and;
  • At every regular checkup between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, each child receives a brand new, age-appropriate book to take home and keep

More than a dozen studies show that literacy promoting interventions done by the pediatric health care provider has a significant effect on parental behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes toward reading aloud:  parents served by Reach Out and Read are more likely to read to their young children, read to them more often, provide more books in the home, and their children enter kindergarten better prepared to succeed, with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills.

Since Northwest Pediatric Center launched Reach Out and Read in August 2010, we have provided over 5000 young children and their families in this community with early literacy education.

You can get involved by volunteering to read in our waiting room;  helping out with Read and Romp, our annual summer children’s reading festival; or by donating to our office new books (appropriate for children 6 months to 5 years of age).

Reach out and Read Donors

  • Northwest Pediatric Center
  • Providence Centralia Hospital
  • Twin Cities Rotary Club
  • TransAlta Community Transformers
  • Titus-Will Chevrolet
  • South Sound Reading Foundation
  • Chehalis Kiwanis Club
  • IBEW Local Union 77
  • Centralia-Chehalis Soroptimists
  • Rochester Chamber of Commerce
  • Drs. Henricksen & Wagner
  • Lucky Eagle Casino
  • Security State Bank
  • Rainier Connect
  • Jerome Tso Photography
  • and many generous private donors

To learn more about how Reach Out and Read improves school readiness visit  Reach Out and Read’s Website