Mother Child W Physician

Reach Out and Read of Greater Milwaukee (ROR-M)

Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national program, which began in Boston in 1989, that seeks to make early literacy an integral part of pediatric primary care. View our Reach Out and Read brochure (PDF)

This medically-based early literacy program is evidence-based. Please review a summary of research (PDF) published on the effectiveness of the program.

ROR gives low-income parents the information, encouragement and materials they need to make books and reading a regular part of their children's lives.

Young girl sitting reading books in library

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.
Program Objectives
  • 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)

Reach Out and Read Milwaukee Pediatric Clinic Sites

Midtown Clinic
5433 W. Fond du Lac Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53216
(414) 277-8900

Isaac Coggs Heritage Health Center
8200 W. Silver Spring Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53218
(414) 760-3900

Martin Luther King Heritage Center
2555 N. Martin Luther King Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53212
(414) 372-8080

Next Door Pediatrics
2561 N. 29th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53210
(414) 264-5338

Lisbon Avenue Health Centers
3522 W. Lisbon Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53208
(414) 935-8000

Hillside Family Center
1452 N. 7th St., 2nd Floor
Milwaukee, WI 53205
(414) 935-8000

Sixteenth Street Community Health Center Cesar E. Chavez Location
1032 South 16th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53204
(414) 672-1353

Sixteenth Street Community Health Center Parkway Location
2906 S. 20th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53215
(414) 385-6279


How you Can Help
Thank you for exploring our website and learning about ROR Greater Milwaukee. We would appreciate having you become a part of our literacy team to help the children of Milwaukee become successful readers.

If you or your company would like to send a monetary donation please view our online giving form and select "Other" as the Gift Designation and specify "Reach Out and Read - Milwaukee" in the Comments section.
Milwaukee Sponsors and Collaborators

Fiscal Supporters

New and Gently Used Book Donations

Literacy Referrals




Volunteer Opportunities
We have two different types of volunteer opportunities; the first is to process the books which we then distribute to our eight pediatric health center sites. The second involves reading aloud to children in the waiting rooms of eight, urban pediatric clinics in Milwaukee with the goal of helping children develop a love of reading and books, and to model read-aloud techniques for the families.

Read our volunteer overview (PDF)

The pediatricians at these clinics will continue your good work by counseling parents on the importance of sharing books with their children, and by giving books to the child during the well-child visits.

Volunteers must complete certain requirements (PDF), submit a volunteer application (PDF), have a background check (PDF) completed, two TB skin tests, and submit an immunization record. View Volunteer Health Assessment (PDF)

Volunteers are given an on-site orientation to introduce them to the clinic environment. They are given advice on reading aloud techniques, interacting with parents, and sharing literacy referral information.

For more information please call Alexandra Lesnick at (414) 955-5749 or email
Donate New and Gently Used Books
A unique part of the Reach Out and Read Milwaukee program is our gently used book program. Our ROR-M sites make gently used books and children's magazines available for older siblings and others who visit the clinics. These books are distributed in our waiting rooms and are available free to patients and their families.

If you have gently used children or adult books or magazines that you would like to donate, please contact Alexandra Lesnick at (414) 955-5749 or email
Literary Resources
View a list of books to help children deal with economic hardships (PDF).
Also available to view are Developmental Milestones of Early Literacy in English and Spanish (PDF).
Reading Tips for Parents (PDF) and What Children Like in Books (PDF)
Become a Reach Out and Read Provider
If you are a pediatric or family practice doctor or nurse practitioner who will be implementing the Reach Out and Read program in your practice, you need to complete provider training for Reach Out and Read. You can complete this training online and receive 1 hr. CME credit.

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 Midtown Clinic (MTC), ROR-M developed a protocol: Is the Message Getting Through? to accomplish the following objectives:

  1. Assess early literary resources within zip codes of existing MTC patient population
  2. Evaluate readability level of MTC patient education materials
  3. 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
  4. 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.