Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Reach Out and Read program started in 1996 and is implemented at 13 of CHOP’s primary care practices located in West, Northwest and South Philadelphia; Burlington Township, New Jersey; and Coatesville, Drexel Hill, Kennett Square, Norristown, Pottstown, Souderton and West Chester, Pennsylvania.  The program is also at some of CHOP’s outpatient Neonatal Follow-up Programs.

In the exam rooms at CHOP’s Reach Out and Read sites (primary care doctor’s offices), the pediatricians and nurse practitioners encourage parents to read aloud to their children and offer age-appropriate tips and give the young children a brand-new, age-appropriate book at each well visit.

 

The impact

The Reach Out and Read program begins at the child’s 6-month checkup, and continues through age 5, with special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities. Families served by the program read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve to their potential. Learn more.

This fiscal year, the pediatricians, residents and nurse practitioners at CHOP's Reach Out and Read sites will need to give at least 56,500 brand-new, age-appropriate books to children ages 6 months through 5 years during well visits, and advise parents about the importance of reading aloud and language development.

The need

  • “The highest rate of return in early childhood development comes from investing as early as possible, from birth through age five, in disadvantaged families. Starting at age three or four is too little too late, as it fails to recognize that skills beget skills in a complementary and dynamic way. Efforts should focus on the first years for the greatest efficiency and effectiveness. The best investment is in quality early childhood development from birth to five for disadvantaged children and their families.”—James J. Heckman, December 7, 2012. SOURCE: Invest in Early Childhood Development: Reduce Deficits, Strengthen the Economy

  • Reach Out and Read is focused on serving children growing up in low-income communities. “Growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development. Poverty and financial stress can impede children’s cognitive development and their ability to learn.” SOURCE: Annie E. Casey 2017 KidsCount Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being

  • “A major contribution of family literacy to young children’s future success is the act of talking with infants and toddlers….the richness of interaction in the home has a strong influence on early language development and acquisition of literacy that lasts throughout the school years.” SOURCE: Rosenkoetter, S. Knapp-Philo, J. Learning to Read the World, Language and Literacy in the First Three Years, (2006), Zero to Three

How you can help

  1. Volunteer to read: Learn about our volunteer reader opportunities
  2. Donate books: Donate new and gently-used children's books
  3. Support the program: Make a donation or hold a fundraiser (CHOP's Reach Out and Read Program depends 100 percent on donations)

Thanks to the passionate efforts of doctors, nurse practitioners, volunteers, parents and donors, Reach Out and Read has touched the lives of countless at-risk children and families.

In this video, leaders of CHOP’s Reach Out and Read program and other experts share inspiring stories about what makes the program so effective and efficient, how it helps children's language development and helps them start and stay successful in school. You will also hear about the important role philanthropy plays in the program's livelihood long into the future. Watch and learn why CHOP believes in the Reach Out and Read model.


Next Steps