Helping Hands

Targeted programs that serve populations in need.

We know that every child can benefit from reading becoming a part of their lives. However, we also know that making reading a priority is easier for some families than for others, and that certain children are more likely than others to need additional help. To that end, we have launched a number of special initiatives that bring our program to those communities that most stand to benefit from Reach Out and Read.

Building Connections Begins at Birth

At Reach Out and Read, we have always known that reading aloud together, telling stories, and sharing books help to forge a lasting, meaningful connection between caregiver and child. We have always encouraged families to make shared reading a part of their routine and celebrated the importance of spending time snuggled close together. More and more, the evidence is clear that we’ve had it right all along: This time is not just special and joyous — it’s life changing.

A growing body of evidence now indicates that routines around spending time together and reading aloud have lasting impact far beyond language and early literacy; they help foster emotional connectedness and healthy social-emotional development. Studies have shown that regular family routines like reading together even help to buffer the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on long-term health outcomes.

Based on this evidence, Reach Out and Read has updated our model to emphasize the importance of introducing talking, reading, and singing with babies right from birth. From 2023-2028, we will strategically roll out an adaptation of the Reach Out and Read model to include implementation in the first four well-child visits, in addition to the traditional 6-month to 5-year visits. To best equip sites and clinicians to adapt their current practice to the new model, we have developed Building Connections Begins at Birth training, which integrates concepts of early relational health into the newborn to 5-month visits.

Developmental Disabilities

Reach Out and Read created the Understanding Developmental Disabilities initiative to better support clinicians working with children with disabilities and their families. The goal of this initiative is to help all families incorporate reading, talking, and singing into their everyday lives, in a way that is both sustainable and enjoyable.

The Understanding Developmental Disabilities training is available in the Reach Out and Read learning management system and shows clinicians how to adapt the Reach Out and Read model to better suit children with different developmental delays and disabilities. This training includes a series of eight videos highlighting clinicians incorporating Reach Out and Read into primary care visits with children through age 5 in the context of a variety of developmental issues, including ADHD, speech and language delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder, visual impairment, hearing loss and motor delay.

Reach Out and Read Counts

In 2018, Reach Out and Read introduced Reach Out and Read Counts, an initiative that integrates promotion of “math talk” into the traditional Reach Out and Read model. Studies have shown that children from undeserved communities sometimes experience a “math gap” upon arriving in kindergarten — a gap that can have a negative impact on later school performance.

With Reach Out and Read Counts, primary care clinicians provide parents with simple suggestions for engaging with their child while reading, including pointing and counting, talking about differences in the sizes of different images on a page, and narrative prediction — all of which help develop a child’s understanding of the building blocks of math. Clinicians who have participated in the project have said Reach Out and Read Counts offers them a fun new way to engage with children and their families over books and reading.

The Reach Out and Read Counts training is available in the Reach Out and Read learning management system. It includes an introduction outlining the research behind the basic elements of early math development and its impact on young children, followed by a series of videos highlighting clinicians incorporating Reach Out and Read Counts into primary care visits with children through age 5.

For more information about any of these initiatives, please contact

To learn more:
Overview of Reach Out and Read Counts
Early Math Family Fun Poster
Early Math Developmental Milestones

“I had no idea that reading together could bring benefits to an infant—when we started, it quickly became our favorite part of the day.”

– Reach Out and Read Parent, Rhode Island