Invest in Reading
Kim W. Anderson, M.Ed., CALT
The business world is all about investments. Invest a million dollars in a product or an idea today and hope to recoup millions more in the future.
However, businesses are now being encouraged to invest in something a little different.
Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce issued a report calling on corporations to invest in early learning programs to bolster America’s workforce development strategy.
Our nation’s early education system is in crisis. More than 34 percent of American children enter kindergarten without the basic language skills they will need to learn to read. Despite the billions of dollars invested in remedial reading programs, those millions of children are unlikely ever to catch up.
Reading difficulty increases the risk of school failure, dropping out, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy. These factors perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.
The business community also recognizes the crisis.
The Chamber’s report notes that “global competition for human talent and innovation, long-standing educational achievement gaps, low high school graduation rates, and the pending retirement of 77 million baby boomers have placed tremendous workforce pressures on American business. These pressures, if not checked, will jeopardize our national economic security, and the viability of the American dream.”
The problem is big.
The solution, however, begins with something small: reading.
Hard research confirms that reading to children improves their chances of success in life. Reach Out and Read is a national, nonprofit, school readiness organization that helps doctors like me spread this crucial message. The program provides funding for books, as well as early literacy training for pediatricians and nurse practitioners.
Nationwide, Reach Out and Read serves 3.9 million children at 4,600 community hospitals and clinics. In Texas, we serve 240,000 children and families.
Medical providers at regular pediatric checkups, give every child 6 months through 5 years old a new, developmentally-appropriate children's book to take home and enjoy. They stock our waiting room with reading tips, literature-inspired posters, and of course, beautiful books. Doctors and nurses speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud to their young children every day.
Just as they give prescriptions for medications, they also give prescriptions for kids to read. Both can positively impact the health and development of children.
The payoff on the investment is clear. According to Arthur Rolnick, former Senior Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, dollars invested in early learning yield an annual return of up to 16 percent later in life.
In addition, we have found that families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies, stronger language skills, and a six-month developmental edge.
Patients come to their routine visits looking forward to getting a new book and building their in-home collections. They are quick to identify words on signs and enjoy spending time at the library.
They’re better prepared to achieve their potential and therefore, help our nation achieve its potential.
And it all starts with the turn of a page.
News From Across The State
- Summer of a Million Books
Reach Out and Read Texas successfully completed the first Summer of a Million Books Campaign. Highlights of the summer campaign included: UT Kid's Place Clinic hosting local Channel 2 News with coverage of their Reach Out and Read Program highlighting Dr. Michelle Barratt; the Pediatric and Adolescent Center of Arlington and Grand Prairie's Back to School Health Fair benefiting Reach Out and Read; and the Junior League of Houston extending their Back to School Fashion Show by holding a book drive for Houston area Reach Out and Read programs. Half Price Books generously offered to match the books donated during the summer campaign.
- New Spanish-Language Radio Ad
On Monday, September 13, Reach Out and Read launched a Spanish-language radio public service announcement (PSA) campaign in Austin, Texas. Listen to the ad.
Funded by the Leyendo Juntos (Reading Together) initiative, the radio ad ran for two weeks, and encouraged all Spanish-speaking parents and families to read aloud to young children every day. The ad also directed parents to Reach Out and Read's Spanish-language website, which provides parents with information about reading tips, developmental milestones, and book recommendations.
- Reunion of Miracles
Children danced to live music and ate cake while parents talked and laughed in the sunshine outside Temple's Railroad and Heritage Museum, their experiences with premature babies and complicated births now a memory. Parents and children received reading tips and books from Reach Out and Read Advisory Board member, Dr. Robert Burke, at Scott & White Hospital's first Reunion of Miracles in Temple, Texas.
- If You Give a Legislator a Book...
During summer's Congressional recess, two Congressman made visits to local Reach Out and Read programs in their districts. Congressman Ralph Hall read to young patients at Primary Care Associates in Paris, Texas, and Congressman Sam Johnson treated children at Plano Children's Medical Center to story time.
- New Reach Out and Read Sites
- East Texas Medical Center |
- Deming Pediatrics |
Port Lavaca, TX
- PediPlace |
- Dell Children's Medical Center Health Express |
- Goose Creek School Based Clinic |
- El Franco Lee Health Center |
Brand Your Doctor With a Button
Show your support of Reach Out and Read and the positive difference the program makes on children's developmental and school readiness skills. For buttons contact Reach out and Read Texas at 713.500.8295.
Raising Baby Book Worms
Reading aloud to young children is the single most effective thing parents can do to help prepare their children to succeed in school. Unfortunately, fewer than half of U.S. children ages 5 and under are read to every day, placing them at risk for reading delays and school failure.
Click here for Doctor-Recommended Books.
The editorial staff of the The Reach Out and Read Newsletter would like to hear from you. Please submit your comments, suggestions, and questions to Amanda Marlow at Amanda.Marlow@uth.tmc.edu.
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