“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Since 2000, Akron Children’s has given out approximately 414,000 books to children through Reach Out and Read, a national campaign that promotes early literacy through partnerships with medical providers.
“This program is a great way to get information out to parents and to get kids to read,” said Karen Carbaugh, Reach Out and Read program coordinator in Akron.
Working with office staff and providers in our 23 Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics offices, Reach Out and Read gives a new, age-appropriate book to every patient, 6 months to 5 years old, at each well visit. As part of the well visit, providers also give parents literacy advice.
Carbaugh stresses the importance of reading to children from an early age. Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important activity leading to literacy acquisition. Reading aloud builds word-sound awareness in children. Children in preschool tend to score three to six months ahead of non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests.
The program also accepts gently-used books to distribute to the waiting rooms. Volunteers read to children while waiting for appointments, showing by example that reading is enjoyable for the whole family.
“It’s great to see kids smile, especially when they are interacting with the teen volunteers,” said Francine McBride, Reach Out and Read and education coordinator in the Mahoning Valley.
McBride started working with the program at Tod Children’s Hospital in Youngstown and carried it over to Mahoning Valley in 2007. Recently, Mahoning Valley received a donation of 1,150 new books from Scholastic Books.
“They looked at all the sites in the state and chose programs that gave out over 1,000 books bi-annually,” said McBride. “We gave out 3,898 books in 2013.”
Reach Out and Read thrives on donations. Apart from Scholastic, the program receives support from book drives with Barnes and Noble, relationships with local schools, community organizations and grants.
“In 2013, we received 1,338 books from customers who purchased a book for us at Barnes and Noble. It was our biggest year yet,” said Carbaugh.
“Reach Out and Read would not be here if it weren’t for the donors,” McBride said. “These may be the only new books a family receives due to economic hardships. It is a really nice gift.”