Well, it is not surprising that the Reach Out and Read organization grabbed my attention. As an author of an upcoming children’s book for infants and young children through age 5, this agency is right up my alley. However, I was unaware of them before meeting the representatives at the Gifts That Give Hope Alternative Gift Fair.
The Reach Out and Read concept is ingenious! This program combines pediatric check-ups with furthering literacy skills through reading. In a nutshell, children receive a book at each of their wellness check-ups beginning at age 6 months through age 5. Reach Out and Read states,
“The Reach Out and Read evidence-based program builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Reach Out and Read incorporates early literacy into pediatric practice, equipping parents with tools and knowledge to ensure that their children are prepared to learn when they start school.”
Please visit their website via the link above to learn more about Reach Out and Read’s mission, model, and how to get involved and support this fundamental cause.
But while I have your attention, at least I hope I still do ;), I want to share with you why I am so jazzed to get involved with this group in my area.
First, this organization has the ability to translate many popular children’s books into more than 14 languages! For my area, this is paramount. I live in a very diverse area that has a substantially growing refugee population. We also have well-established Hispanic and Asian populations. Translating books into native languages is crucial if we are to encourage families to read together. Many of the refugee children and their families are in the process of learning English so a book written in English may not be read in some of these households. However, written in their native language, these families are given a truly meaningful gift. Notwithstanding the fact that many refugee families have to flee their country immediately and arrive with few personal belongings, let alone books.
Second, this program is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, is an award recipient of the Library of Congress, and is a literacy partner with the American Academy of Family Physicians. Powerful and impressive alignments, indeed.
Lastly, this program’s commitment to improving literacy within particular populations is admirable. Several of the individual initiatives include American Indian and Alaskan Native Initiative, Leyendo Juntos, and a Military Initiative. Additionally, Reach Out and Read is also committed to improving literacy skills in children with developmental disabilities. Their website includes a downloadable version of their “Developmental Disabilities Literacy Promotion Guide.”
Reach Out and Read is an organization worthy of support from those of us in the field of Early Childhood Education. Their commitment to promoting literacy is in alignment with our own. We would do well to advocate for their cause, volunteer with their program, and consider donating books to their organization.
Next time you gather a few children around for a read aloud, remember that Reach Out and Read is working diligently to support your efforts. How about returning the favor by endorsing them. 🙂