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Reach Out and Read

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Reach Out and Read NW gets $25K to expand read-to-baby program

Program teaches parents the values of reading to kids from day one

Reach Out and Read Northwest has received $25,000 to expand the evidence-backed Building Connections Begins at Birth program. The program emphasizes the importance of parents and caregivers introducing talking, reading, and singing to babies right from birth.

Why is reading from birth important to babies? A growing body of evidence indicates that routinely spending time together and reading aloud from the moment a baby is born can have a lasting positive impact on a child’s language acquisition and early literacy. Regular reading can boost a baby’s and growing child’s emotional connectedness and healthy social-emotional development. 

Connecting to reading at well-child check-ups 

Building Connections Begins at Birth introduces the concepts of early relational health to parents, starting at their newborn medical visit and continuing through to the baby’s 5-month check-up and beyond.

During well-child visits, medical providers affiliated with Reach Out and Read talk with parents about the benefits of reading aloud to their young children. Clinicians are trained to show parents how to hold books so their kids are engaged and how to interact with the text and images to help them follow along. Parents also learn from medical providers the importance of talking about stories with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Foundational support from day one

“This new funding serves as a commitment to the clinics and families in Washington and Oregon as we work collectively to increase the ’dose’ of our impactful program,” said Reach Out and Read Northwest Regional Executive Director Jessica Mortensen in a release this week. “Starting at birth means children get Reach Out and Read at four extra well-child visits, including four more books. Beginning with newborns offers our foundational support from day one.”

Reach Out and Read Northwest clinics cover Washington and Oregon. In 2023, the organization served nearly 200,000 children at more than 395,000 well-child visits in the two states and distributed more than 333,000 books to families.

An expression of a parent’s love

“As a pediatrician, I have seen firsthand how Reach Out and Read can help children and families starting at birth,” said Reach Out and Read National Medical Director Dr. Perri Klass. “I hope that every interaction comes across as an expression of my belief in the child’s potential and the parent’s love — and that every book carried out of the exam room helps families build loving interactions, routines, and memories.”

Check out the organization’s site list to find the location of a Reach Out and Read-affiliated clinic near you.

Read more:

Seattle’s Child Book Corner

Local authors selected for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

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Kids’ book picks for Black History Month


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