Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Kindergarten Readiness and Performance of Latino Children Participating in Reach Out and Read

Diener, M.L., Hobson-Rohrer, W., Byington, C.L. (2012) Kindergarten Readiness and Performance of Latino Children Participating in Reach Out and Read. Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education, 2(3), 1-7. ,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description

Descriptive analyses and partial correlations.

core topic(s)

Reach Out and Read (ROR)

Population Characteristics

Immigrant , Kindergarten , Medicaid , Race, Ethnicity, and Culture

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Child Behaviors and Skills , Home Language/Literacy/Learning Environment , Language and Literacy Development , Parent Behaviors and Skills , School Readiness and Educational Outcomes


The objectives of this study were to provide descriptive information at kindergarten on Latino immigrant children’s emergent literacy skills and home literacy environments, and correlation data between ROR exposure and emergent literacy skills.


Reach Out and Read (ROR).

outcomes evaluated

Emergent literacy skills at kindergarten and home literacy environment.


A clinic providing primary care to low-income Latinx immigrant mothers and their children, most of whom were enrolled in Medicaid or uninsured.


A sample of 40 low-income Latino immigrant mothers and their children participated. Medical records were reviewed to determine level of ROR exposure. Home literacy environment was assessed through maternal interview. Children’s emergent literacy skills were assessed before kindergarten through interviews with the children and with the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), and at the end of kindergarten through teachers’ reports based on a modified version of the Kindergarten Teacher Questionnaire – Part C from the Department of Education Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-K (ECLS-K). We completed descriptive analyses for the demographics of our sample, ROR exposure, home literacy environment, emergent literacy skills and teacher evaluations. We created composite scores of children’s print awareness, teacher-rated literacy skills, and ROR exposure. Finally, partial correlations controlling for child age and maternal education were conducted between the composite score of ROR exposure and children’s literacy skills as assessed by the child interview, the DIBELS test, and teacher-report. Child age and maternal education were controlled.

sample size

n=40 (mothers and their children)


Measure of Home Literacy Environment: maternal interview with questions addressing frequency and enjoyment of adult and child book-reading activities.


Measure of Emergent Literacy Skills (before kindergarten): interviews using Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS).


Measure of Emergent Literacy Skills (after kindergarten): teacher reports using modified version of the Kindergarten Teacher Questionnaire–Part C from the Department of Education Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-K (ECLS-K).


The majority of children evaluated came from two-parent households and had high compliance rates with well-child care. All children began ROR at 6 months; the mean number of ROR books received was 6. Home literacy environments of families were strong as demonstrated by book ownership and parent-reported adult-child reading. Evaluation of early literacy skills in the clinic demonstrated children had good familiarity with print, and greater ROR exposure was related to significantly greater print and phonemic awareness before kindergarten entry. DIBELS testing performed in the clinic setting identified 37%-45%of the children as at risk for reading difficulty prior to kindergarten. At the end of kindergarten, teachers reported ECLS-K identifying 60% of children as intermediate or proficient in reading and rated the literacy skills of 77% of the children exposed to ROR as average, above average, or far above average when compared to all students of the same grade.


The kindergarten literacy performance of this small sample of Latino children participating in the ROR program from infancy was good. Though these children were living in poverty and had other risk factors for poor-school performance, they had good home literacy environments and average or above average literacy skills by the end of kindergarten. Protective factors including family stability, well-child care, and early and consistent participation in the ROR program may have improved the school readiness of these high-risk children.


First, the sample size is small...Second, the children in this study were drawn from families who, though living in poverty and thus at risk for poor school performance, may have had unmeasured factors that contributed to school performance, such as family stability...The range of emergent literacy skills of the children in this study points to the importance of moving beyond the achievement gap between Latino and white children and examining the factors associated with the heterogeneity in low income, Latino families literacy practices [18]. The contribution of these factors and traditional Latino values on ROR engagement and school performance deserve further study [59]. Third, we are unable to measure the individual components of the ROR program that might contribute to literacy orientation. The number of books received was dependent on physician record keeping and may result in under-reporting. The presence of the library in the clinic offered additional opportunities for book ownership and literacy encounters beyond the traditional ROR program. Finally, there is no control group for this study. We believed there were ethical issues that prohibited the creation of a control group denied early literacy interventions that were standard of care in the clinic. Efforts to recruit controls from the community failed to identify families with similar socio-economic or education levels as the families served by our clinic. Further, it was difficult to identify children with similar risk factors from our community who did not receive healthcare in a clinic with a ROR program because of its widespread implementation.