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More than 80% of a child’s brain is developed in the first three years of life! And research shows that one of the best ways to develop a child’s brain is to make reading and storytelling a daily part of the family’s routine. But not all families have books at home, or know the importance of daily reading with their children. Reach Out and Read is an incredible program—the only national pediatric literacy program endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics—that partners with trained pediatricians to reach out to children and their families when they come for their well-child visits. By educating families and providing books to read at home, Reach Out and Read makes a real difference in parental behavior and children’s learning outcomes!

Reach Out and Read is a huge program! It currently has 40,000 trained pediatricians and reaches 4.2 million children in the US every year. What is especially important is that Reach Out and Read makes sure to provide special attention and support to communities that need it most. Half of the children participants are from low-income families, and there are special programs for children with developmental disabilities, Spanish speakers, and the American Indian population. Reach Out and Read also pays attention to the diversity of books available in its program with its Mirrors and Windows fund, which supports books that mirror the lived experiences of all children, which also act as windows that help children understand lives that are different from their own.  

You can help Reach Out and Read impact the lives of even more children in all sorts of ways! Yes, of course monetary donations (and even donations of your car!) are welcome, as are online fundraisers like “donating” your birthday gifts or a virtual book drive. But their Volunteer page has even more great ideas, like organizing a new or gently-used book drive or volunteering as a reader in participating clinics (pandemic restrictions permitting). Advocating for your state and federal representatives and policy-makers to support Reach Out and Read is also always appreciated! As they note on their website, “Telephone calls, letters, meetings, and Reach Out and Read program site visits can have a tremendous impact [on legislators].”

Thank you, Reach Out and Read, for making the world a better place!