Reach Out and Read

The importance of early childhood literacy

Did you know that 35 percent of American children enroll in kindergarten without the basic language skills they need to learn to read? Critical early literacy skills include recognizing the letters of the alphabet, understanding that reading books means moving from left to right, and being able to understand and tell stories.

Despite the billions of dollars Americans have invested in remedial reading programs, it’s unlikely that the millions of children who enter school unprepared will ever catch up. In fact, 88 percent of first graders who read below grade level will continue to read a grade level below by the time they reach fourth grade (Juel, 1988). And, reading difficulties contribute to school failure, which increases the risk of absenteeism, dropping out, and other at-risk behaviors – all of which perpetuate cycles of poverty and dependency.

A key strategy is promoting 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 percent per year – higher than other traditional economic-development strategies.

Reach Out and Read (ROR) is one of the nation’s few truly effective, evidence-based early literacy programs aimed at preparing kids to succeed in school. ROR 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, academic investigators have studied the ROR model 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 about Reach Out and Read’s effectiveness:

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

How the program works

Northwest Pediatric Center and its five clinics are proud to partner with Reach Out and Read in three key ways:

  • Volunteers read with children in the waiting room, promoting a literacy-rich environment that encourages reading and book-sharing,
  • Pediatric 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.

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.

More than a dozen studies show that literacy-promoting interventions by pediatric healthcare providers have 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 children with more books at home; and enroll their children in kindergarten better prepared to succeed, with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills.

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 new books (appropriate for children 6 months to 5 years of age) at one of our clinics.

Reach Out and Read donors

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

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