REACH OUT AND READ: LINKING EARLY LITERACY AND HEALTH
As the Reach Out and Read West Michigan Affiliate, Ready for School is leading a new healthcare collaborative to increase early literacy skills by modeling and prescribing reading with young children.
Reach Out and Read is a national program to support pediatric clinicians in their efforts to provide families with the tools they need to make reading and storytelling part of their daily routines.
Reach Out and Read contributes to creating the environment our children need to thrive. As adults we prioritize safety for all children. Every day adults take precaution and safety measures for kids. If you're a parent you know the script well: taking hold of small hands when crossing the street; buckling into car seats; healthy eating; brushing teeth; and bedtime are routines meant to protect and prevent damage.
Linking early literacy and health through reading and storytelling, every day, is no different.
Reach Out and Read promotes literacy as part of the pediatric primary care visit. The program trains medical providers to provide children with a new, developmentally-appropriate book at each well-child visit 0-5y.
During each well visit at participating Reach Out and Read sites, pediatricians and nurse practitioners encourage parents to read aloud to their children, offer age-appropriate tips, modeling, and give the young children a brand-new, age-appropriate book.
• Of the approximate 44,000 children 0-5y old in Kent County, only 7,000 are currently served by Reach Out and Read across 12 clinical sites (16%). Meanwhile, early literacy challenges in West Michigan are begging for evidence based interventions that increase levels of positive, language-rich parent-child interactions from the beginning.
SOURCE: Talent 2025 West Michigan Early Literacy Strategy: Pre-Kindergarten, September 2017.
• 90% of a child’s brain has already developed by age five (when entering kindergarten), we know early intervention is key. However, our current early literacy system doesn’t engage children and families early enough. Research shows only 34% of parents report reading aloud to their children for more than 15 minutes per day.
SOURCE: Though many brain patterning processes are complete at birth, the human brain exhibits further dramatic biological development during the preschool years, and roughly quadruples in weight before the age of six (Dobbing and Sands, 1973), when it has acquired approximately 90% of its adult volume (Courchesne et al., 2000; Iwasaki et al., 1997; Kennedy et al., 2002; Kennedy and Dehay, 2001; Lenroot and Giedd, 2006; Paus et al., 2001; Reiss et al., 1996).