To our Reach Out and Read community from our medical leadership:

You go into pediatrics – and perhaps especially primary care pediatrics – because you believe in the remarkable potential of children and the pure joy of watching – and helping – them grow.  You find yourself working with Reach Out and Read because you believe in the power of parents and caregivers – ALL parents and caregivers – to express their love for their babies and toddlers and children through the positive and language-rich interactions that happen around the books. You believe in the power of those neural connections that are forged inside a young child’s brain through that give and take, through those words and stories and questions and answers, all in the setting of family routines and physical affection. You know that the families we serve are rich in talent and potential – but not always in opportunity.  Still, you believe that we can help parents and caregivers do what they most want to do – use books and stories and words to help their children grow into everything that they can possibly be, by reading with them, telling stories, asking and answering questions, and explaining the world.  

But recently it has felt like explaining the world is a difficult and sad duty.   The pandemic has brought home the disparities and divisions which put the success of so many families we serve in deep jeopardy, despite their best efforts.  It is our honor, at Reach Out and Read, to serve and support families all over this country who are doing their best for their children, including many families, especially in the Black and Brown neighborhoods and populations which have been hit so hard by the pandemic – over and above their disproportionate burdens of poverty, environmental pollution, systemic racism, and other toxins which prevent healthy growth and development. And this week, with the death of George Floyd, and the grief and horror that hits so close to home for so many of our families – as well as for so many of our colleagues – we want to acknowledge that just as it is our mission to help children grow up understanding and appreciating the world, it is also our duty and obligation to make sure that the world is worthy of these children – all these children.   We think now of the families of color, of the promises made – and kept – when parents hold young children and read to them, and we remind ourselves of the larger promises which need to be made and kept by us all.

Perri Klass, MD,
Dipesh Navsaria, MD
Tom DeWitt, MD
Trude Haecker, MD
Terri McFadden, MD
Leora Mogilner, MD
Robert Needlman, MD