Center for the Advancement of Underserved Children

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Program Overview

Reach Out and Read integrates early literacy development into pediatric primary care settings for preschool children, by taking advantage of regularly scheduled well-child visits to reach parents of children from six months to five years of age. It is a pediatric literacy program that uses health supervision visits and the power of the provider/patient relationship to support the development of early literacy skills in young children. View our brochure.

Program Objectives include the for

  • To encourage parents to read to their babies and young children.
  • To encourage parents to share in the excitement of learning.
  • To "prescribe" appropriate books at well-child visits for children ages six months to five years.
  • To help young children develop a love of reading.
  • To prepare children to start school ready to learn and succeed.
  • To promote positive interactions between clinicians and children and families from underserved populations.

Beginning at the six-month visit and continuing through the child's fifth year, clinicians give a child a developmentally appropriate and culturally respectful book at each visit. Their parents receive guidance about the benefits of literacy development, looking at books with young children, and reading aloud. By the time they begin school, children will acquire a library of at least ten beautiful children's books.

In the clinic waiting room, volunteers read stories and look at books with children, thereby modeling reading aloud techniques and other nurturing interactions for parents.

Greater Milwaukee is part of a nationwide effort to encourage children and their parents to experience the rewards of increased literacy at a young age. The Commission on Reading reported that reading aloud is the single most important predictor of later reading success.

In addition, reading aloud supports children's language and cognitive development and strengthens the parent-child bond. Most important, children regard reading as an enjoyable activity, associating books with parental love and attention.

A pilot study found that clinic parents who received literacy counseling and a book during a clinic visit were four times more likely to look at books with their children than parents who did not.

Please read about our current program measurables (PDF).
© 2015 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 02/07/2015