Start a Program

How to join our community of Reach Out and Read medical providers.

To become an official Reach Out and Read program, there are a few simple steps to complete: collect routine data, submit an application, and determine how your books will be supplied. Once approved, your providers must complete the online training course on program delivery. There are two important program roles to fill: Medical Consultant and Program Coordinator.

Medical Consultant: the pediatric primary care MD, DO, NP, or PA who is most enthusiastic about Reach Out and Read and wants to champion the cause due to a deep appreciation for the critical first 2,000 days of a child's life. While neither a demanding nor time-consuming role, he or she will provide oversight of the clinical components of the program to: 

  • Ensure that Reach Out and Read best practices are implemented throughout the pediatric or family practice department;
  • Foster discussion of and create support for efficient systems (book delivery to the exam room)
  • Assure compliance with requisite online training by provider staff;
  • Share relevant information with medical providers on early literacy and language development and Provider Bulletins that Reach Out and Read makes available from time to time; and
  • Act as the medical "face" of the program; connect with the executive leadership of the health center, clinic, or practice.  

Program Coordinator*: any interested staff member familiar with the clinic, staff, and patient population.  This role supports the Medical Consultant and is responsible for administrative aspects:    

  • Ordering the books;
  • Tracking the number of books distributed;
  • Completing the semi-annual Progress Reports; and
  • Ensuring a literacy-rich environment and coordinating volunteer readers (if any).

Both roles are typically voluntary and take very little time each month. 
*A medical provider may fulfill both roles, particularly in small practices. 

Application Timeline:

  1. Start an online application. After you provide basic contact information, your program site will be issued a Site ID and password and redirected to, where the application is finished and submitted. During this time your site's status is "Application in Process." (You may repeatedly log in and work on the application over time.) 
  2. Along with the application you must also submit a letter of support, signed by the department head, clinic medical director, or executive director, stating your practice's commitment to the Reach Out and Read program. (Details on how to submit the letter and application are provided in the application.)  Once this is received, your site's status is "Application Complete".
  3. Applications completed by the second Monday of each month are reviewed by the Reach Out and Read Application Review Committee during that week.  You can expect to receive an email the following week. Approved applications become "Approved Needs Training." If your program site does not yet have the funding for a year's worth of books (100% of your Annual Book Commitment), your application will be placed on the waiting list.
  4. Once the medical providers at your practice have completed the online training, and staff members have been oriented (more information below), your site becomes "Active" and you may start implementing Reach Out and Read at your practice. 

Once Your Application Has Been Approved

  1. Medical providers must receive official Reach Out and Read training before implementing the Reach Out and Read program. (information below)
  2. Each Reach Out and Read program site receives a Reach Out and Read/Scholastic pre-paid account into which you can deposit funds for purchasing Scholastic books. After completing training, you will receive your Scholastic Account Number, the Reach Out and Read catalog, and additional information about how to take advantage of this helpful resource.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is this program for everyone?
The Reach Out and Read model is designed to be implemented by medical professionals who provide primary care to children, ages 6 months through 5 years, as part of the well-child checkup. Both pediatric practices and family practices that see children may participate Reach Out and Read.

2. How will our clinic, providers, and patients benefit from becoming a Reach Out and Read program?
Reach Out and Read has become an essential part of pediatric practice across the country - from large, urban practices to small, rural clinics. By introducing a beautiful new book at the beginning of a well-child visit, providers find they can better engage and calm the child, provide meaningful, positive literacy promotion messages to the parent or guardian, and build stronger connections with the family. Using the book in the exam room creates an opportunity to talk about other relevant topics - sleep routines, the importance of a child's first 2,000 days, school readiness - and also offers providers a new and valuable tool for monitoring the child's development. And, Reach Out and Read encounters are often the nicest of the provider's day.

3. What is the Reach Out and Read model?

The Reach Out and Read model for literacy promotion has three key elements:

  • Primary care providers (doctors, NPs, PAs and RNs) are trained to deliver early literacy anticipatory guidance to parents of children 6 months through 5 years of age during each well-child visit. This age-appropriate guidance centers on the importance of: frequent and early exposure to language, looking at board books and naming pictures with infants, rhyme and repetition for gaining phonemic awareness during toddlerhood, and reading interactively (such as asking open-ended questions) when reading with preschoolers.
  • During well-child visits for children ages 6 months through 5 years, the provider gives the child a new, developmentally-appropriate book to take home, building a collection of 8-10 new books in the home before the child goes to kindergarten. The provider also repeatedly prescribes reading aloud, every day.
  • Reach Out and Read program sites also create literacy-rich environments that may include gently-used books for waiting room use or for siblings to take home. In some waiting rooms, Reach Out and Read volunteers model for parents the pleasures and techniques of reading aloud to very young children.

4. How do we know Reach Out and Read is effective?
Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based intervention. Peer-reviewed and published studies show that literacy promoting interventions by a pediatrician using the Reach Out and Read model have a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud. Studies also show that parents who receive books and literacy counseling from their pediatricians are more likely to read to their young children and to bring more books into the home. Read a summary of the research that supports Reach Out and Read.

In June 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared literacy promotion to be an "essential component of pediatric care" for all children, referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention to engage parents and prepare children to achieve their potential in school and beyond. Click here to read the AAP's policy statement. 

5. How many books do we need, and how much do they cost?

You will need one book for each well-child visit performed for children ages 6 months through 5 years, though some providers do give books starting in infancy. To have your application approved, you must certify that you have the necessary funding or number of new, developmentally-appropriate books to cover all well-child visits for the first year of your program. As you will see in the application we use an average cost of $2.75 per book for calculation purposes. The actual cost of books will vary depending on title, language, and vendor.

Books are available for purchase from a number of vendors who provide Reach Out and Read program sites with discounts and special offers.

Please note, the $2.75 is only representative of the average cost of the actual book. It does not reflect the costs that the Reach Out and Read local and national organization incurs to assist in the delivery of the program, such as provider training and site support,  as well as the book purchasing and delivery process.


6. How do we find financial support for our books - either new, donated books, or funding for books?
Program sites should consider how they will sustain the program over time.  Some practices write off book expenditures as a business expense. Others solicit private contributions from community service organizations such as Lion's or Rotary Clubs, professional societies, charitable foundations, and/or receive support from their parent organization or provider network. Some program sites hold an annual fundraiser. And still others hold a clinic-wide dress down day, bake sale, car wash, or pancake breakfast. Reach Out and Read program sites have access to resources such as Support a Site materials that can assist you with seeking funding from individuals or small businesses in your community.

The kind of fundraising plan that you need will depend on the size of your population and your budget. If you have a development department, speak with them about your funding needs. Reach Out and Read offers templates for fundraising letters and grant applications (that you can personalize for your own program). Reach Out and Read coalitions can also assist with your fundraising efforts (find a coalition in your area).

Local community groups can help your Reach Out and Read program site with fundraising for books, volunteer recruitment, community visibility, and publicity. Reach Out and Read program sites often work with the following groups:

  • High school and college community service groups
  • Civic groups (e.g., Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Junior League)
  • Municipal literacy initiatives
  • Libraries
  • Faith-based organizations

7. Who is in charge of running Reach Out and Read at our program site?
There are two primary roles in each Reach Out and Read program site: the Medical Consultant and Program Coordinator. See above (Start a Program).

8. We want to become a Reach Out and Read Program - what steps should we take now?

  • Review information and steps (above) on how to Start A Program
  • Find out if you are located within a Reach Out and Read state or regional coalition and contact its Program Director before making your application. View the list of coalitions.
  • Develop and implement a fundraising plan to generate support for your books.
  • Complete the online application at

9. How will our staff gain orientation to the Reach Out and Read model?

  • Medical providers will complete the Reach Out and Read online CME Course, which offers 1.0 level one CME credits. Once your program site has been approved, each participating provider at your program site will receive his or her individual login information to complete the course. 
  • Your program coordinator is encouraged to view an archived Webinar for new Reach Out and Read Coordinators.
  • Many sites find it helpful to orient the entire practice, including medical assistants and non-medical personnel, during an all-staff meeting. This builds enthusiasm for, commitment to, and understanding of the Reach Out and Read program and model. It also includes them in discussions about which systems are best put into place for: getting the books to the exam rooms, the practical issues such as book storage and a tracking system, as well as ideas for creating your literacy-rich waiting room.

10. What books should we choose for our families?
The Reach Out and Read model calls for the provider to give a new, age- and culturally-appropriate book in the exam room at each well-child visit. There are a number of ways that you can procure books for your program site.

Reach Out and Read partners with Scholastic to publish a book catalog available exclusively to approved programs. The books are offered at substantially discounted prices. The catalog is organized by age, making book selection easy. Reach Out and Read programs may also choose to purchase high-quality children's books from book specials offered by publishers and book distributors. We routinely post such offers on You can also ask local individuals, service organizations and booksellers to hold book drives for NEW books for your program site.

The Reach Out and Read Program Coordinator Manual has a section devoted to identifying quality children's books for use in the intervention, as well as suggestions for ordering, tracking, and storing your book supply. Read the manual here

Many Reach Out and Read programs also like to have gently-used books available in the waiting areas for parents to share with children as they wait, for siblings tagging along to the checkup, and/or for sick visits. Gently-used children's book drives can be hosted by school children, scouting troops, faith-based groups, Rotary and Lions Clubs, etc.

11. How can we create a literacy-rich environment?
Reach Out and Read program sites recognize that literacy awareness and encouragement starts even before the appointment begins, in the waiting areas and exam rooms. An environment that fosters reading and is filled with literacy resources can reinforce the anticipatory guidance offered during the well-child visit. Since children and parents sometimes spend time waiting, this time can be well spent sharing books together! 

  • A basket or bookshelf of donated, gently-used children's books can be placed in almost any area.
  • Larger waiting areas might create a separate children's reading area, complete with bookshelf/bookcase full of used books, child-sized chairs and table, and a colorful rug.
  • Reach Out and Read has poster designs (such as our Reading Tips or Milestones of Early Literacy Development) for you to print out and hang on waiting room walls.
  • Post information about the local library: location, story hours, how to get a library card, etc.
  • When possible, recruit volunteers to read aloud! This models the techniques - and joys - of reading aloud.
  • Display photos of providers or local celebrities reading to children.
  • Provider pamphlets or information about health literacy, family literacy, and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) resources available in the community.
  • Encourage all clinic staff to help promote literacy and reading together. We often hear that the receptionist, upon check-out, will ask the child, "What book did you get today?"  
  • Review the American Academy of Pediatrics Books Build Connections Literacy Toolkit for additional tips and ideas on promoting reading aloud. 

12. How do programs interact with the National Center?
Reach Out and Read staff members are available at or 617-455-0614 to provide ongoing technical assistance to our program sites.

Questions about the Application Process?
Contact a member of a regional or state Reach Out and Read Coalition. If not located within a coalition, contact the Reach Out and Read National Center by calling 617-455-0614 or emailing

Contact Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read National Center
89 South St, Suite 201
Boston, MA 02111