Reading is a fundamental skill that can open many doors for a child. A good book will awaken the imagination and expand learning. But using books can even help youth develop motor skills. That’s the understanding behind the Reach Out and Read program, which was developed by the pediatricians in 1989.
As the Reach Out and Read Arizona Affiliate, the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has been promoting early childhood literacy and school readiness since 2002.
Physicians, as a trusted resource for all families, are enlisted to incorporate Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally-appropriate books to children.
Reach Out and Read Video: Reach out and Read on PBS NewsHour
Beginning at age 6 months and at each child well visit until age 5, the medical professionals provide a book, and use the child’s reaction to help them gauge development of key milestones. It’s also an opportunity for providers to talk to parents about the importance of reading and literacy. They even share tips on how to engage children of any age with reading.
With an emphasis on low-income communities, Reach Out and Read Arizona is currently working with over two hundred sites in Arizona, distributing approximately 200,000 books each year. The Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics partners with Southwest Human Development and Literacy Connects to provide Reach Out and Read programming in central and southern Arizona, respectively.
Currently, only one in four Arizona children is enrolled in quality early learning settings. While the Arizona Education Progress Meter has set a goal to increase that to 45 percent by 2030, Reach Out and Read is ensuring that children have access to books, even though they may not be enrolled in school.
For some families, the Reach Out and Read program is the only way that books are brought into the home. Books often filter out to other siblings and the whole family is enriched as a result. The program is having a big impact: National research has shown that families served by Reach Out and Read: read together more often, their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills and the children are better prepared to achieve their potential.
To learn more about Reach Out and Read Arizona, contact the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics at (602) 532-0137 x 407 or www.azaap.org.
For more success stories from across Arizona, visit the Expect More Excellence Tour.