Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reach Out and Read

Last week the New York times published Rx: Read: Training doctors to promote literacy in their youngest patients. It reports that a non-profit organization called Reach Out and Read is improving language development in children of low-income families.
The program trains doctors to encourage parents to read to their babies. Doctors hand out books at each checkup. They are also trained to use books as a tool to asses children's development. For example, a doctor might assess the motor skills of an infant by how well an she can lift a book or the cognitive skills of a toddler by how closely he looks at the pictures.

By age four, children in professional families will hear twice as many words as children in welfare families, and more of what welfare children hear will be discouraging or prohibitive rather than encouraging statements.  These differences have a profound impact on children’s cognitive development (The Early Catastrophe; The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3).
Studies have concluded that parents who participate in the program Reach Out and Read are four times more likely to read to their children, and their child’s language development increases accordingly.

1 comment:

Nelda said...

That is awesome that doctors are choosing to do this! I wonder if there is a way to encourage our local doctors to do the same?

Your stats are spot-on. I sat with a kindergarten teacher today who is struggling with how to reach the children she has now. The dilemma is getting worse each year and this is the first I have heard of a trusted professional group with such frequent contact with our population doing something like this.

I'm working towards my Masters in Reading. You just gave me something else to research...