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Reach Out and Read: Immunizing Children against Illiteracy

Updated on May 2, 2013

Reach Out and Read (ROR) Begins in Pediatric Exam Rooms

The non-profit organization Reach Out and Read encourages school readiness and early literacy by giving books to children when they visit the doctor. Pediatric medical providers build a relationship with the parents to help them understand how critical it is to start developing reading skills as early as six months of age.

Reading aloud to children helps them gain a larger vocabulary and builds their language skills. It has been proven that those children and their families involved in Reach Out and Read are better prepared to enter kindergarten and achieve their full potential.


Literacy Crisis in the Public Education System

Did you know that more than 1/3 of American children do not have the basic language skills needed to be able to begin learning to read when they enter kindergarten? These early literacy skills are critical for their development. They should be able to:

  1. Recognize letters of the alphabet
  2. Understand that you read a book from left to right
  3. Understand and be able to tell a story

Children who begin school unprepared are extremely likely to not ever catch up. Reading difficulty contributes to the perpetual cycle of poverty and dependency causing:

  • Failure in school
  • Increase risk of absenteeism
  • Dropping out of school
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Substance abuse
  • Teenage pregnancy


Partnering with Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read was founded in 1989 at the Boston, Massachusetts City Hospital. The premise is to promote early literacy as a standard part of pediatric primary care to help with the growing problem in the U.S. Pediatric medical professionals prescribe books to children and their families, especially those in low-income communities. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers encourage reading aloud beginning at a child’s six-month checkup through the age of five.

Reach Out and Read has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and additional organizations whose routine primary care centers around treating the “whole child.” These positive experiences early in life enhance each child’s ability to become a productive member of society.


Alarming Literacy Statistics

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) defines literacy as: the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential.

  • It is predicted that if a child is not reading proficiently by the end of 4th grade, they have an approximate 78% chance of never catching up. In addition, two-thirds of the students who are not at the 4th grade proficient level will end up in jail or on welfare.
  • According to the Department of Justice, illiteracy and crime are closely related.
  • More than 60% of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.


Three-Part Model for Reach Out and Read

This simple yet effective model helps prepare young children for school.

  1. During a child’s doctor appointment, parents receive support and age-appropriate guidelines encouraging them to read aloud to their children on a daily basis.
  2. The child/parents are given a developmentally-appropriate children’s book to keep.
  3. A waiting room environment rich with books and information for the parents is clearly present.


ROR – What You Can do to Help

  • Promote early literacy techniques with your children and grandchildren.
  • Volunteer to read to children in a setting such as a medical waiting room, a hospital, library, etc.
  • Volunteer to set up or take part in a Book Drive to collect new and gently used books for Reach Out and Read.
  • Donate books and/or money to a local Reach Out and Read provider.

Reach Out and Read Programs are located in all 50 states and also military bases overseas. To find a location near you, please go to the link below on the ROR website where you will find a map that also includes ROR Coalition locations.

Find a Reach Out and Read Program Near You

Thank you so much for stopping by. With a little bit of effort, we all can do our part to help "immunize children against illiteracy."

This is Sharyn's Slant


Kylie's Blossoms by Maria Jordan

Here is a beautiful children's book written by a fellow HubPages writer that would make a wonderful gift to read aloud to a special child in your life.

Kylie's Blossoms, richly illustrated with the colors of the seasons, tells the tender hearted story of a little girl and her teddy bear. Every month of the year the two meet a new floral friend in the woods. The charming designs surrounding the lessons that Kylie learns make this beautiful book the perfect gift, sure to become a year round bedtime story that all ages will enjoy.

Click here to purchase a copy of Kylie's Blossoms

You can purchase Sunnie's book here on Amazon!

Sunnie and Her Peeps by Sunnie Day

Here is another awesome children's book by HubPages writer Kim Kruise Thompson (Sunnie Day) that would make a beautiful gift for a child and their family.

Sunnie and Her Peeps is a delightful story of a little girl and her chicks. Sunnie always dreamed of buying her own peeps. One day her dream came true. She soon learns that these little peeps have colorful personalities that make each one unique in their own way. Chrissy is Sunnie's little dog who becomes friends with the little peeps. The reader will enjoy the antics of these little peeps and learn about chickens along the way.

Some experts say read to your child even before they are born.


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    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi CC ~ The stats are kind of scary. And not any one child is the same with their abilities and/or their home life. I do think schools, etc. are trying to make things better. Thanks so much for your feedback, votes and shares!


    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Very awesome hub. You repeated with many of your statistics much of what I learned in professional development as a teacher regarding poverty and literacy. Oh, boy the schools try, but how can they meet everyone's needs when some kids are almost over-prepared and many kids are underprepared? Fabulous hub!! Many votes and shares. :)

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Oh Sunnie ~ you are SO welcome. I am honored to add your children's book here. Reading to children is a very special gift that should be part of every child's upbringing. Reach Out and Read will certainly help make that a reality. Thank you so much for your feedback and permission to feature your wonderful book.


    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 5 years ago

      Such an inspiring greater gift than to read to a child..I love the excitement in their little faces and to hear them read for the very first time is such a treat beyond words..Thank you Sharon..Will be sharing this one for sure. Thank you for mentioning Sunnie and Her Peeps.

      God bless you my friend,


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Mike ~ I agree, it's so important to get books out there in the parents hands and children as well. And I was thrilled to include Kylie's Blossom's here. Thank you too!


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Maria ~ awww, that is so sweet if you donate some copies of your book. I was hoping that highlighting your book would bring you more sales. I still hope that happens too. You are an awesome person and friend. Thank you,


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Paul ~ That's a very interesting thought about children having at least two years of kindergarten. And kids in Thailand attend kindergarten for three years. Wow, I never knew that but it makes so much sense. Thank you so much for your comments and sharing this piece as well.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Suzie ~ you are welcome! Thank you for the comment, votes and share.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Dr. BJ ~ I thought so too. Fascinating statistics! Thank you so much for always stopping by with the kindest comments.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi sherrituck ~ I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment. Thank you!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Sharyn, this sounds like a wonderful program. Getting children interested in books, and reading is so important to our future. I am a believer in getting books into children's hands (adults hands also).

      Thank you for your hard work in putting together this article and for giving a shout out for Kylie's Blossoms.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Relationshipc ~ I am not sure if there is something similar in Canada. This program is mainly in the U.S. Your niece is very lucky to have you to read to her. I used to love to read to my nieces and nephews. I hope the impact you have on her is profound. Thank you so much for your feedback.


    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Sharyn,

      What a worthwhile program. I am certainly going to look into a PA branch and donate Kylie's Blossoms... Our children are our future's investment. We must give them every possible advantage.

      Thank you for your awareness raising. Thank you for the honor of featuring my book. Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Carol ~ I think that's true. We are definitely "out of the loop" with what goes on "educationally speaking" if we don't have kids or grand kids in school. Thank you so much for your comments and sharing this important message as well.


    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Sharon, this is a very good hub and I agree that the earlier you read to a child in life the better reading skills he or she will develop. I always can remember my mother reading to me when I was young, and I liked it so much. One thing that would help with language and reading skills is for all children to have the chance to attend at least two years of kindergarten before the beginning of first grade. During these 2 years of kindergarden kids will hopefully learn the alphabet and get a foundation in phonetics. In Thailand, many kids in urban areas attend kindergarten for 3 years before first grade. Voted up and sharing.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      This is an important Hub. Thanks for making us aware of this awesome reading program. Voted up and shared.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      That is a fascinating statistic, Sharon, that 'more than 60% of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.' What a powerful reason to support 'Reach Out and Read' and other similar children's reading programs. Thanks for the reminder, m'dear.

    • sherrituck profile image

      Sherri Tuck 5 years ago from Virginia

      Great Hub on a very important topic.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      This is an awesome program! Is it just in the states? Do you know if there is something similar in Canada?

      We don't have kids, but my niece is never read to unless we are over there. Even while we are reading to her, the mother and grandmother are trying to shove toys in her face. It's so frustrating because she loves to listen to a story read to her and you can see her thinking and looking at the pictures and creating a little story in her head. I'm worried that she may end up a statistic like above who can barely read because she is just not stimulated enough.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I guess that often we are not aware of what is going on educationally speaking if we don't have young kids or grandkids in school. This is a great hub pointing out what is really going on. The program is a vote up and a share for the day.


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