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Duke Children's Reach Out and Read Program recognized for excellence

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Elizabeth Erickson, MD

Two Duke Children's Primary Care Clinics--the Roxboro Street and South Durham locations--recently received the 'High Quality Program' designation from Reach Out and Read.

Reach Out and Read is a national, evidence-based initiative that promotes early literacy and school readiness by giving books to children at regular checkups starting at 6 months of age along with advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. Duke Children's Reach Out and Read encourages reading aloud as a regular, joyful home activity that can improve language development, parent-child interactions, and academic success. 

The effectiveness of the Reach Out and Read model is recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics in a policy statement that recommends early literacy promotion as an essential component of pediatric care. The program is both cost-effective, and evidence-based--research shows that the program results in more frequent reading at home, accelerated vocabulary and critical brain stimulation.

High Quality Program benchmarks 

The following benchmarks were met to achieve the Reach Out and Read High Quality Program designation:

  • At least 85% of medical providers trained
  • Implement model with fidelity
  • Report giving book at the beginning of each visit and providing age-appropriate guidance
  • Identified on-site champion
  • Progress reports are accurate and complete
  • Books distributed i at 85%+ and stable
  • The right books: age, language, topic
  • Literacy rich environment with books in waiting room and community resources
  • Data tracking
  • Funding sources and plan in place
  • Identified site coordinator and medical director
  • Book storage system/tracking systems clear and consistent

Program impact

“Reading is one of the most important things that we can do to help our children thrive,” said Elizabeth Erickson, MD, a primary care pediatrician at Duke Children’s. “While many people believe that learning to read begins in school, we know that talking, reading and singing in the newborn period can predict how successful children are when they arrive in kindergarten. The first thousand days of a child’s life have been identified as a critical period for brain development and during this time the building blocks for reading and understanding language are being laid. Beyond the newborn period, reading can provide a moment of calm and stillness in our busy lives. Cuddling up on the lap of a parent or other caregiver to read a book provides children with a sense of security and calm that is not easily replicated. Outside of early childhood, books can help children see themselves and their experiences reflected back to them so that they can better understand themselves. Additionally, books can serve as windows into other cultures and worldviews to help children broaden their horizons.” 

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