The Evidence

Tried and True

Reach Out and Read is built on and backed by science.

Reach Out and Read’s effectiveness is consistently supported by independent, peer-reviewed research. Studies show that our model has a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud, and that children who participate in our program demonstrate higher language scores. Our impact has been documented in ethnically and economically diverse families throughout the nation.

Evidence that we make a difference in children’s lives.
  • Families participating in Reach Out and Read read more frequently to their children.
  • Children exposed to our program had higher receptive and expressive language scores.
  • Increased exposure to Reach Out and Read led to larger increases in language scores.
  • Children had higher scores on the Home Literacy Orientation.

NEW in 2019!

Encouraging Parent–Child Book Sharing: Potential Additive Benefits of Literacy Promotion in Health Care and the Community,

Canfield et al.,
Early Childhood Research Quarterly

Parents who received both a book and guidance through Reach Out and Read about the importance of reading were more likely to engage in literacy activities with their children through book sharing at home.

NEW in 2019!

Attendance at Well-Child Visits After Reach Out and Read

Needlman et al.,
Clinical Pediatrics

Caretakers who are introduced to Reach Out and Read demonstrate a significant increase in compliance with Well-Child Visits (WCV), with the largest differences found among Latino families and children of less-educated families.

The Impact of a Clinic-Based Literacy Intervention on Language Development in Inner-City Preschool Children,

Mendelsohn et al.,
Pediatrics

High-risk urban families participating in Reach Out and Read read more frequently to their children. Children exposed to Reach Out and Read had higher receptive language scores (mean: 94.5 vs. 84.8) and expressive language scores (mean: 84.3 vs. 81.6). Increased exposure to Reach Out and Read led to larger increases in language scores (receptive and expressive).

Literacy Promotion in Primary Care Pediatrics: Can We Make a Difference?

High et al.,
Pediatrics

Families participating in the Reach Out and Read model read to their children more often (4.3 vs. 3.8 days/week), and their toddlers’ receptive and expressive vocabulary scores were higher, even when adjusting for parental education, foreign-born status, and language proficiency.

The Impact of Early Literacy Guidance on Language Skills of 3-Year-Olds,

Theriot et al.,
Clinical Pediatrics

Among children aged 33 months to 39 months attending a well-child clinic in Louisville, KY, expressive and receptive language scores were significantly associated with both the number of Reach Out and Read-enhanced well-child visits they had attended, and with the number of books purchased for them by their parents. This finding supports a “dose effect” for the Reach Out and Read intervention—the more Reach Out and Read, the higher the score.

Exposure to Reach Out and Read and Vocabulary Outcomes in Inner City Preschoolers,

Sharif et al.,
Journal of the National Medical Association

Children participating in Reach Out and Read had higher receptive vocabulary scores (mean: 81.5 vs. 74.3). They also had higher scores on the Home Literacy Orientation (measured reading to child and number of books in the home) than children not participating in Reach Out and Read.

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

Diener et al.,
Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education

This study showed that a small sample of Latino children who participated in Reach Out and Read from six months of age had average or above average literacy skills by the end of kindergarten, as well as high-quality home literacy environments.

The body of independent, peer-reviewed, and published research supporting the efficacy of the Reach Out and Read model is more extensive than for any other psychosocial intervention in general pediatrics.

Studies show that we improve parental attitudes and practices.
  • Parents increased their weekly bedtime reading and were more likely to read aloud to their children.
  • Parents are more likely to share books with their children and to report that reading is one of their child’s favorite activities.
  • Participating families demonstrated higher attendance rates for well visits.
  • Families that participate are more likely to own 10 or more children’s books.

Evaluation of a Clinic-Based Program to Promote Book Sharing and Bedtime Routines Among Low-Income Urban Families with Young Children

High et al.,
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

Parents whose children (< 3 years) had received books and educational materials during well-child visits were more likely than parents in a control group to report that they shared books with their children, and to cite sharing books as a favorite activity or a child’s favorite activity.

Clinic-Based Intervention to Promote Literacy

Needlman, et al.,
American Journal of Diseases of Children

Parents who had received a book as part of Reach Out and Read were more likely to report reading books with their children, or to say that reading was a favorite activity. The benefits of Reach Out and Read were larger for families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

More Evidence for Reach Out and Read: A Home-Based Study

Weitzman et al.,
Pediatrics

In a study using direct observation of children’s homes, parents were more likely to read aloud to their children and enjoy reading together when their families had more encounters with the Reach Out and Read program.

Effectiveness of a Primary Care Intervention to Support Reading Aloud: A Multicenter Evaluation

Needlman et al.,
Ambulatory Pediatrics

In a multicenter study, families exposed to Reach Out and Read were more likely to report reading aloud at bedtime, to read aloud three or more days per week, mention reading aloud as a favorite parenting activity, and own 10 or more children’s books.

An English-Language Clinic-Based Literacy Program is Effective for a Multilingual Population

Silverstein et al.,
Pediatrics

English- and non-English-speaking families who participated in the Reach Out and Read model increased their weekly bedtime reading, and more parents reported reading as their own or their child’s favorite activity. For non-English-speaking families the number of children’s books in the home also increased as a result of the Reach Out and Read model.

Prescribing Books for Immigrant Children

Sanders et al.,
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

Hispanic parents participating in Reach Out and Read were more likely to report reading to their children compared to other parents. When parents read more frequently to their children, they were also more likely to read frequently themselves.

Literacy Promotion for Hispanic Families in a Primary Care Setting: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Golova et al.,
Pediatrics

Hispanic parents whose children had received bilingual books, educational materials, and literacy-promoting anticipatory guidance were more likely to report reading books with their child at least three days a week (66% vs. 24%) and report that reading books was one of their three favorite things to do with their child (43% vs. 13%) than parents in a control group. Parents participating in the Reach Out and Read model intervention also tended to have more books in the home (for children and adults).

Reach Out and Read works. In participating families, studies show:
  • Parents are 2.5X more likely to read to their children.
  • Parents are 2X more likely to read to their children three or more times per week.
  • Families are 2.5X more likely to enjoy reading together or to have books in the home.
  • Children’s language development is improved by 3-6 months.
  • Children’s language ability improves with increased exposure to Reach Out and Read.
Studies show that we contribute to stronger primary care.
  • Participating parents were more likely to rate their child’s pediatrician as helpful.
  • Pediatricians were more likely to rate participating parents as receptive.
  • Staff at successful Reach Out and Read sites expressed strong commitments to their community and showed higher levels of teamwork.

The Value of Book Distribution in a Clinic-Based Literacy Intervention Program

Jones et al.,
Clinical Pediatrics

Parents participating in Reach Out and Read were more likely to rate their child’s pediatrician as helpful than those not participating. Pediatricians in the Reach Out and Read group were more likely to rate parents as receptive than those in the non-Reach Out and Read group. Mothers in the Reach Out and Read group were two times more likely to report enjoyment in reading together with their child than those in the non-Reach Out and Read group.

The Role of Clinic Culture in Implementation of Primary Care Interventions: The Case of Reach Out and Read

King et al.,
Academic Pediatrics

Successful implementation of the Reach Out and Read program was related to the culture of the clinic. Staff at clinics that struggled to implement Reach Out and Read found their jobs burdensome and reported lacks in communication. Staff at successful Reach Out and Read sites worked as a team and expressed strong commitments to their communities.

The Good Habit of Reading (El Buen Habito de la Lectura): Parental Reactions to an Enhanced Reach Out and Read Program in a Clinic for the Underserved

Byington et al.,
Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved

This qualitative study examined the thank-you notes sent to staff at a Reach Out and Read clinic by Hispanic families. Families expressed thanks for the books received, as well as the literacy advice given by doctors and nurses. Many families believed that the books and advice promoted the habit of reading and demonstrated respect the staff held for the families and their children.

We are committed to evaluating and improving our model through additional, ongoing research efforts.