Reach Out and Read – Milwaukee (ROR-M)
Reach Out and Read – Milwaukee (ROR-M) Children’s earliest literacy begins at home with their families. The links between literacy and poverty are well documented. Reach Out and Read is a national program that improves language development in children. The goal of ROR-M is to assess and improve literacy development including health literacy in urban populations.
In partnership with Downtown Health Center, ROR-M developed a protocol: Is the Message Getting Through? to accomplish the following objectives:
- Assess early literary resources within zip codes of existing DHC patient population
- Evaluate readability level of DHC patient education materials
- Administer Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (STOFHLA)/ and After Books Reading Survey (BABAR) to assess health literacy, parental attitudes and practices regarding reading with children
- Obtain parent opinions about book selection for ROR-M
- Identified that 79% of patients come from 10 zip codes. Overall, there were 13 (Range 0-5/zip code) early literacy resources identified in those 10 zip codes.
- Over half (68%) of patient educational material was recorded as 7th grade and higher (Range 7th-17th).
- Reading books was one of their favorite activities (69%) and part of their bedtime routine (50%).
- Three quarters (75%) had more than 11 books in their home and 63% possessed library cards.
- Health literacy levels by determining parents’ ability to comprehend basic medical concepts and what they must do in order to stay healthy. Parents had either an Adequate Reading Level (92%) or Marginal Reading Level (8%).
- Most (88%) parents bought books for their children in addition to the ROR-M books that they received at their doctor’s appointment.
- Parents (63%) expressed a preferred for books with words & pictures that have a moral lesson.
- Half of the parents allowed their child to choose their own books.
Limitations of this study is that convenience sampling results in self-selection of parents to be assessed that might have higher literacy levels and under representation of families at greatest risk for literacy challenges.