Why Reach Out and Read?

How Reach Out and Read Makes a Difference for America's Children

Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

achievement gap

The Achievement Gap Starts Early

A third of young children, and a half of children living in poverty, in the U.S. arrive at kindergarten without the skills that they need for success at school ( 1). Students who enter kindergarten with below grade level reading skills have a much higher chance of dropping out of school later in life ( 2). By giving young children a foundation for success, we are combatting the effects of income inequality.


The Opportunity of a Lifetime

What happens during the first few years sets the stage for the rest of a child's life. More than 95 percent of a child's brain is formed during this critical period, and a child's experiences irreversibly affect how the brain develops - for better or worse (3).

Positive, responsive parenting during the early years creates the strong parent-child bonds that promote healthy brain development ( 4).



Seizing the Moment

Reach Out and Read doctors and nurse practitioners have the greatest access to families with children in the early years, when it counts - more than 91 percent of children under the age of six attend routine pediatric visits at least once a year (5). 

We encourage parents to read aloud daily to their infants, toddlers and preschoolers, as a simple and effective way of fostering nurturing, language-rich family interactions that support brain development and provide a foundation for success. Read more about the importance of reading aloud here

Our Unique Model

At more than 10 routine health checkups from infancy through 5 years, Reach Out and Read-trained providers:


  • Talk with parents about how important it is to read aloud and engage with their young children
  • Demonstrate how best to look at books and talk about the stories with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers
  • Encourage them to cuddle up and read together at home and build routines around books
  • And then give a new book to the child to take home and keep

At the end of the program, every child has a home-library of books, each given with the advice to parents that they are their child's first and most important teacher.


We Deliver Results

Reach Out and Read is committed to evaluation of our impact.language development Our program is evidence-based, supported by independent, published research studies showing that the children we serve:

  • are read to more often by their parents, 
  • have improved language skills 
  • have a greater love of reading. 
Read more about our evidence base here.

Cost-Effective and Scalable

Our program is integrated into pediatric care - in fact the American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed our model, promoting it as "an essential component of pediatric primary care."  

This means that we are:

  • Cost Effective - $20 provides the program for one child for a year
  • Have the capacity to scale up to reach every family in the U.S. 
In partnership with our supporters, we have grown at a rate of 5% over the last 10 years. We currently serve over 4.7 million children each year, including a quarter of children from low-income families.
We are a national network, with 28 regional affiliates supporting over 32,700 medical providers at 6,000 sites in all 50 states of the U.S. - read more about our organization here.


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