By Matt Ferraguto
Doctors and nurses at 15 of Worcester’s hospitals, health centers, clinics, and practices are sending home their youngest patients with brand-new children’s books and important advice for their parents: “Read to your child every day.” That’s because they’re all participating in Reach Out and Read, the national nonprofit early literacy initiative that gives young children the tools they will need to learn to read and succeed in school.
Reach Out and Read is research-proven, with more than a dozen published studies documenting its impact on the children and families it serves, and it’s cost-effective, because it only costs $40 to provide the full, five-year program to one child. Each child in the program receives a brand-new book at every regular checkup between 6 months and 5 years old (10 books in total), and doctors speak with parents at each checkup about the importance of reading aloud every day.
Worcester is one of the fastest growing communities for Reach Out and Read, with 3 new clinics joining since the beginning of the year. Today, Reach Out and Read serves more than 12,000 of Worcester’s infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, distributing more than 20,000 books each year.
Reach Out and Read is working closely with local leaders, including State Representative Vincent Pedone, to encourage every pediatric healthcare provider in the city to join the ROR program, which would make Worcester one of ROR’s first “Bookend Cities.”
State Representative Vincent Pedone said, “As a father, I know the joys that reading to young children can bring, but I also understand the incredible demands on every parent’s time. So I ask you to join me in thanking the doctors and nurses of Worcester who have made it their priority to raise awareness about the importance of early literacy. And I ask you to join me in carving 20 minutes out of every day to sit down with your children, turn off the television, and read them a book.”
Reach Out and Read was founded in Boston in 1989, and is currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary year. Since its founding, Reach Out and Read has distributed more than 25 million books to children across the country, and now has more than 4,500 participating Sites in all 50 states which together serve more than 3.8 million children.
Reach Out and Read has been praised for its fiscal management, including receiving the highest rating possible from Charity Navigator (four stars) for five consecutive years, and the Independent Charities of America Seal of Excellence.