Current Research

We are committed to evaluating our impact

Reach Out and Read continues to be committed to evaluation of our impact through independent research:

  • Thorough evaluation shows us how to continue to improve our model for maximum effectiveness.
  • Compelling results place Reach Out and Read as a leader in early literacy and stimulate a more widespread adoption of our program.

 A New Collaborative Research Study

Baby chews board bookIn May, 2016, Reach Out and Read medical advisors established a research collaborative of clinicians, researchers and Reach Out and Read coordinators with the aim of taking our research to the next level.

This collaborative, named the Collaborative for Early Literacy and Brain Development in Primary Care (otherwise known as LitNet), will develop and coordinate research projects, with a particular emphasis on large-scale network-based research that will further demonstrate the impact of our program.

We hope to initiate our first such research project in 2017.

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Young Investigator Awards

For the last six years, Reach Out and Read has partially funded young investigators researching aspects of early literacy through the Young Investigator Award program. Results of work supported by this program include:

Brain Development


Through brain imaging studies, John Hutton, M.D., demonstrated that when families read aloud and engage with their young children, there is increased development of regions of the brain associated with learning to read and higher thinking processes.


Word Gap


Using LENA, a device that digitally records and analyses the number of words heard by young children, Adriana Weisleder, Ph.D., showed that Reach Out and Read stimulates an overall increase in the number of words and conversational turns between families and young children.


Resident Training


Anna Miller-Fitzwater, M.D., M.P.H., assessed the new training for residents on how to implement Reach Out and Read for children ages 0 - 6 months. Residents found the training applicable and practical and that families were receptive to the concept.


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A Winner of the Bridging the Word Gap Challenge

Reach Out and Read was excited to be selected from more than 75 submissions as one of 10 Phase One winners of The Word Gap Challenge. The aim of the challenge is to "support innovative solutions that can help promote early-language development among children from low-income famiies in the U.S."

This award allowed us to pilot an amplification of the Reach Out and Read model using video and mobile app technology:

  • The message from doctors and nurse practitioners encouraging families to read aloud to their young children was reinforced by use of video accessible at home via a mobile app.
  • Reminders sent via the mobile app increased the dose of the Reach Out and Read message.

Reach Out and Read app In our small sample of subjects (26), the results were stunning:

  • 100% of parents said the video motivated them to read more with their children 
  • 95% of parents found the reminders helpful
  • 100% of parents reported that they are very likely to continuing reading aloud

We are now planning to continue this study in a randomized controlled trial of 100 families.

Reach Out and Read Research Priorities

Reach Out and Read and Language Ability/School Readiness

Independent, peer-reviewed studies over the years have indicated that Reach Out and Read improves language ability in young children. We are looking into long-term prospective studies and alternative methods of substantiating our impact on language ability and school readiness. 

The Effect of Reach Out and Read on Pediatric Preventive Care Compliance

There are indications that families attend well-child checkups both to receive books and because of an increased sense of agency, thus improving well-child checkup compliance - particularly at checkups when the immunization schedule is critical. 

The Effect of Reach Out and Read on Maternal Depression

A pilot study suggested that maternal depression in young single mothers is reduced through the Reach Out and Read intervention. We would like to expand this project to a larger study. 

Reach Out and Read as a Means of Improving Pediatrician Well-Being

There is evidence that Reach Out and Read is a positive experience for pediatricians and could relieve stress and burnout. We would be interested to formalize a larger study. 

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