Reach Out and Read Supports President Obama’s Focus on Early Education

National pediatric-based school readiness nonprofit says that parents are a key part of the early learning equation

New York, NY (February 26, 2013) – Medical leaders of the national school readiness nonprofit Reach Out and Read have endorsed President Barack Obama’s new plan to expand access to high-quality early education to every child in America – and are calling on pediatric health care providers to help parents promote early learning from birth.

“It’s really exciting to hear President Obama acknowledge the importance of investing in the early years,” said Reach Out and Read National Medical Director Dr. Perri Klass. Dr. Klass is a practicing pediatrician in New York City, who provides families with children’s books and guidance through the Reach Out and Read early literacy program.

Klass, who also writes a column on child development for the New York Times, added, “Loving books begins because you love your parent’s voice reading to you. Through Reach Out and Read’s network of medical providers, parents get the guidance and the books they need to enrich the home environment and bring children the benefits of reading aloud.”

Applauding the President’s efforts to broaden access to early education, Reach Out and Read of Greater New York Executive Director Traci Lester said that parents – and doctors – play a critical role in helping to ensure that all children arrive at school ready to read and succeed.

“Parents trust their pediatricians,” said Lester. “So when a doctor tells parents to make reading part of their child’s daily routine, along with eating vegetables and getting exercise, parents really take that advice to heart. And the evidence clearly shows that children who have books at home and parents who read with them have stronger language skills and start school better prepared than children who don’t.”

Obama’s plan, which he officially announced in his State of the Union address on Feb. 12, calls for investment in “critical resources where we know the return on our dollar is the highest: in our young children.” According to a White House press release, “this investment – financed through a cost-sharing model with states – will help close America’s school readiness gap and ensure that children have the chance to enter kindergarten ready for success.”

“In New York City, where 1 in 3 children are living in poverty and more than half of those children fail to read proficiently by third grade, the need to invest in early literacy promotion is dire,” said Lester. “It’s important for parents to know that they can make a huge difference in the school success of their children simply by reading aloud to them from a young age.”

Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based, national nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness at regular pediatric checkups by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud in the home.

Reach Out and Read’s model includes providing a new, age-appropriate book for each child to take home at every checkup from 6 months through 5 years. Along with the free book for every child, doctors and nurses provide guidance to parents about the importance of reading aloud with their children every day. The program costs just $10 per year per child, or $50 per child for the full five-year program.

In the Greater New York region, Reach Out and Read serves over 250,000 children annually at more than 180 hospitals, health centers, and pediatric practices. Nationwide, Reach Out and Read doctors and nurses serve 4 million children and their families annually at nearly 5,000 locations, with a focus on those that serve low-income communities.


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