Supporting childhood literacy through the Nemours Reach Out and Read program

This morning Bill Britton from Nemours arrived to pick up the latest in a series of book donations (several hundred books each), which will be used to fund the healthcare provider’s Reach Out and Read program.

Through the program, Delaware pediatricians give an age-appropriate book to children up to age 5 during checkups, as well as discuss with parents the importance of reading aloud to their children. Seven out of the 10 Nemours primary care sites participate in the reading program.

Nemours provided start-up costs, but the practices must find their own funding to sustain the program – which is where Success Won’t Wait enters the picture! Success Won’t wait provides books – usually adult fiction and nonfiction — that are sold by the healthcare provider in order to purchase age appropriate children’s books. The goal of the program is to ensure that primary care providers promote literacy as routinely as they give shots.

According to Reach Out and Read, fewer than half of young American children are read to daily, and about 35 percent of American children enter kindergarten lacking the basic language skills they need to learn to read.

Children living in poverty are especially at-risk. Research shows that before age 4, children from low-income families hear up to 20 million fewer words than their more affluent peers. And, this problem is compounded by the fact that low-income children are far more likely not to have any children’s books in their homes!

To combat the problem, Reach Out and Read was developed at Boston City Hospital in 1989, and today there are Reach Out and Read programs in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico.

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