Promoting Early Literacy in Pediatric Practice: Twenty Years of Reach Out and Read

Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicineand Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 11/2009; 124(6):1660-5. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-1207
Source: PubMed


Reach Out and Read (ROR) is the first pediatric, evidence-based strategy to prevent problems of early childhood development and learning. With a start in a single clinic in Boston City Hospital in 1989, doctors working in >4000 clinics and practices gave approximately 5.7 million new books to >3.5 million children in all 50 states in 2008. ROR also has become a model for a different way of thinking about parent education during primary care encounters, based less on telling and more on creating real-time learning experiences. ROR flourished because of (1) the growth of pediatric interest in child development, (2) local leadership of pediatric champions as well as nonmedical supporters, coordinators, and volunteers, (3) evidence of effectiveness, and (4) public financial support attributable to strong bipartisan support in Congress, led by Senator Edward Kennedy. Since ROR started, an increasing amount of research confirms the importance of reading aloud for the development of language and other emergent literacy skills, which in turn helps children get ready for school and leads to later success in reading. Future goals include continued growth until all low-income children are reached with pediatric advice and books, a national campaign led by physicians encouraging all parents to read to their children every day, additional evidence-based, parent information to increase the effectiveness of parents reading to children, quality-improvement efforts to achieve the full potential, and global expansion.

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    • "Several national programs, such as Reach Out and Read and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, aim to increase parental knowledge about the importance of reading and provide low-income families with free books and literacy information. These programs have been shown to be effective at increasing reading practices and maternal attitudes about the importance of reading (High et al., 2000; Mendelsohn et al., 2001; Sharif, Reiber, & Ozuah, 2002; Zuckerman, 2009). For example, in an evaluation of a pediatric clinic literacy intervention, High et al. (2000) found that providing literacy information and books to parents when their children were infants had a lasting effect on parental enthusiasm towards reading when their children were young toddlers. "
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    ABSTRACT: The impact of a baby book intervention on promoting positive reading beliefs and increasing reading frequency for low-income, new mothers (n = 167) was examined. The Baby Books Project randomly assigned low-income, first-time mothers to one of three study conditions, receiving educational books, non-educational books, or no books, during pregnancy and over the first year of parenthood. Home-based data collection occurred through pregnancy until 18 months post-partum. Mothers who received free baby books had higher beliefs about the importance of reading, the value of having resources to support reading, and the importance of verbal participation during reading. The results showed that providing any type of baby books to mothers positively influenced maternal reading beliefs, but did not increase infant-mother reading practices. Maternal reading beliefs across all three groups were significantly associated with self-reported reading frequency when children were at least 12 months of age.
    Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 08/2014; 35(4):337–346. DOI:10.1016/j.appdev.2014.05.007 · 1.85 Impact Factor
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    • "Book-gift programs, such as Reach Out and Read! in the United States, have been well studied and have proven to be effective interventions for encouraging shared reading in the home for preschool-aged children [12-15] but evidence for children under 1 year is lacking. "
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    ABSTRACT: Literacy is important for success in school and in adulthood. Book-gift programs at birth exist to help develop these foundations early on. The effectiveness of the Read to Me! Nova Scotia Family Literacy Program (a program where books and literacy materials are given to families in hospital when their baby is born) on the duration and frequency with which mothers engage in reading and other literacy based activities with their newborns was assessed. An observational cohort study design was used. Mothers of babies who received the Read to Me! package in Nova Scotia born between January-August 2006 made up the intervention group (N = 1051). Mothers of babies born in Prince Edward Island between December 2006 and March 2008 made up the control group (N = 279) and did not receive any literacy package when their baby was born. A phone questionnaire was conducted consisting of questions regarding frequency and duration of maternal engagement in language and literacy-based activities with their infants. These activities included reading, singing, talking, listening to CDs and the radio and watching TV. Babies were aged 0-10 months at the time of the interview. Mothers who received the Read to Me! literacy package spent significantly more time reading to their babies, 17.9 ± 17.6 min/day compared to controls 12.6 ± 10.7 min/day, (p < 0.0001). Read to Me! may be an inexpensive, easy to administer and effective intervention which results in increased shared reading of mothers and their newborns.
    BMC Pediatrics 07/2012; 12:100. DOI:10.1186/1471-2431-12-100 · 1.93 Impact Factor
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