Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read works within Gaston County Health Services to provide books for children six months to five years old. Every book, based on age, is given to the child by his or her doctor at each well-child visit. The program is designed to promote early literacy in children and show the importance of parents reading to their children.
Reach Out and Read prepares America’s youngest children for success in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Doctors and nurses who are trained in Reach Out and Read perform routine health checkups from infancy through five years not only with a stethoscope, but also with a children’s book. The book is used as a clinical tool to encourage parents to read aloud, to give them a simple, practical way of spending time and engaging in conversation with their young children.
The first five years of life offer a critical window for learning, with rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time. Many children, especially from low-income families,are not read to from birth. Children who grow up without sufficient exposure to language arrive at school without basic literacy skills, and often struggle with reading in early grades.
Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.
Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics have uncovered these important facts about early literacy:
- More than 1 in 3 American children start kindergarten without the basic skills they need to learn to read.
- Children who are introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age.
- Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent- child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.
Resources for Parents
Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies
What Children Like in Books
Home Literacy Environment Checklist
Reading Tips for Your Family
Reading Tips for Your Family (Espanol)
Milestones of Early Literacy Development
Milestones of Early Literacy Development (Espanol)