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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
Reach Out and Read Improves Kindergarten Readiness
Reach Out and Read Addresses Preparation Gap
Maple Valley Families and Congressman Reichert Support Reach Out and Read
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JUNE 2012


What kind of memories will we want to have in twenty years of how we faced these difficulties now?

Mitsuno Horiye Matsuda (Mama-san), Family #19788


Last month I read these powerful words from Mary Matsuda Gruenewald's mother in Looking like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps. Ms. Gruenewald explained how her mother helped the family think about their terrible circumstances from a completely different viewpoint. Her mother motivated them and held them together; and this enabled Mary to write about the experience late in her life. The story is one everyone should read, particularly those of us living in Washington.  Mary's family was farming on Vashon Island when they were imprisoned. In the afterword I learned she went on to establish the first nurse-consultation line in the nation at Group Health! So a remarkable teenager survived this experience, became a nurse, and went on to have profound impact on medical services and supports to families that are still in use today--supporting some of the families now served by Reach Out and Read!    


I read this book over Memorial Day weekend, a time when we visit family in Skagit County, where my mother was raised on a farm.  We visited the cemetery where my mom is buried, alongside her parents, her grandparents, her great-grandparents, and many cousins. It is always amazing to look at the gravestones of these Scandinavian immigrants who came to Skagit Valley to farm before Washington achieved statehood, and to share stories with my children about them. 


I have been blessed to travel north for most holidays and vacations since I was a little girl. I remember riding the combine with Grandpa in the wheat field, tasting the freshly shelled peas he grew, picking strawberries in the Sakuma family fields, and enjoying the beautiful tulips grown by the Roozen family.  My grandma talked in her later years about my grandparents' long-standing friendships with these fellow immigrants from Japan and Holland.  We still get berries from the Sakuma family and bulbs from the Roozens and my children and their cousins have come to know the same traditions of homemade strawberry shortcake and jam-making! We are richly blessed by family, by tradition, and by food grown locally; and by the experience our "city kids" (now 6th generation Washingtonians) have by seeing the richness of this land and the people who farm it.


As we prepare to head north again to join the 4th of July traditions of a small community (including the Samish Island parade which often has my aunt or cousin driving the fire truck!), I am struck by all the connections between people, and the melding of traditions in this state over so many years.  Immigration issues are not simple, and we have much work to do around inequities between people living in this beautiful state; recent immigrants or not. At Reach Out and Read we are dedicated to supporting all families and young children, particularly those most at risk for poor educational outcomes. The wonderful thing about our work is that we have a program that is embraced across cultures and is effective for diverse populations.  We are very excited to share with you the newest Reach Out and Read study affirming this efficacy with Spanish-speaking families.


Over the holiday and the summer we hope that you have a chance to relax, and to enjoy some great books!  We also hope you consider what you can do to help assure all children living among us have the supports to achieve their potential and their dreams. These are very tough economic times, and many difficult social issues are driving people apart. But we also have an amazing bounty of natural resources in our diverse population, both adult and child. There is room for considerable optimism if we take action based on need and evidence. 


As Mary's Mama-san said so many years ago "What kind of memories will we want to have in twenty years of how we faced these difficulties now?" Our vision for the future is bright, and we hope you will join us in action to make it so!


Jill Sells, MD and the Reach Out and Read Washington Team 



Latino children participating since infancy show above average literacy skills. We are very excited about research by Diener, Hobson-Rohrer and Byington that assessed children and families at kindergarten age who had participated in Reach Out and Read starting at 6-months. Key findings from the new study "Kindergarten Readiness and Performance of Latino Children Participating in Reach Out and Read," include:

  • Every child in the study group had two or more risk factors (such as poverty and low maternal education) for poor performance in kindergarten, 77 percent had three or more, and all had parents whose primary language was not English
  • The home literacy environment, in terms of book ownership and regular parent-child shared book reading, was good
  • 59 percent of mothers in the study reported that their child had been read to the day before, identical to rates reported for high-income families in national surveys
  • In terms of print awareness, during the interview in the summer prior to kindergarten, 76 percent of these children were able to identify a favorite book by name.
  • At the end of kindergarten, teachers identified 60 percent as intermediate and proficient in reading and rated the literacy skills of 77 percent of the children as average, above average, or far above average when compared to all students of the same grade.

"This study gives us a great deal of hope for at-risk children who are exposed to literacy from an early age," said Carrie L. Byington, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. "We believe our findings add to the strong evidence base that supports Reach Out and Read as a powerful early literacy intervention."



Reach Out and Read Washington State medical providers supported families through 154,769 individual well-child visits last year! Serving an estimated 77,385 children along with their parents, Reach Out and Read is the largest early learning program in Washington state.  Perhaps even more importantly, new analysis of our demographic data demonstrates service to diverse families. 


Of those children Reach Out and Read Washington serves:

  • 77% live in low-income families 
  • 30% have a primary home language other than English
  • 46% are children of color  


We are intentional about serving first those children who are most at risk for poor educational outcomes, and we are pleased to see this data affirming the efficacy of our strategies.  It is our privilege to support the almost 900 medical providers and their staff in 135 medical practices across 29 counties who are now participating in Reach Out and Read. Each day they work hard to support children and families with this evidence-based program in a culturally relevant way. We extend our sincere appreciation to everyone involved! 


If you know of a medical practice that would like to participate, or want to suggest one for us to try to recruit, please contact us by phone or email. We are actively launching programs, and work hard to support doctors and practices throughout the process. 



Reichert Rdg KC-MV

KinderCare center hosts book drive and Congressman Reichert reads to the children. During the past few months, the children and families who attend KinderCare Maple Valley held a book drive at their early learning center. On June 14th they held a wonderful event that included story time by Congressman Reichert, who read Farm and Zoo to the preschoolers, and a presentation of over 1400 new and gently used books to Reach Out and Read Washington State. The children were all very excited that their books from home would now be enjoyed by other children. We thank the KinderCare Maple Valley staff, parents, and children for their generosity and for supporting early literacy in their school and in their community.


"I was delighted to read to children in Maple Valley through the Reach Out and Read program," said Congressman Reichert. "I was reminded of the importance of everyone reading to their children at an early age. Not only is it wonderful for young kids to enjoy the books, it's a lot of fun for the people doing the reading!" Congressman Reichert previously toured the Eastgate Public Health Reach Out and Read program and read to delighted children there. Thank you Congressman Reichert for your support!



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Reach Out and Read helps prepare children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.  Our evidence-based, proven program leverages the volunteer time of doctors to make literacy a standard part of well-child visits. Reach Out and Read supports parents as their child's first teacher. Through 135 programs in 29 counties, over 800 medical providers serve more than 81,000 children and families.

Founded by pediatricians in 2007, Reach Out and Read Washington State supports programs across the state.  We are part of the national, evidence-based Reach Out and Read Program, founded in 1989.


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Telephone - 206-524-3579
Fax - 206-524-4768

Address - 155 NE 100th Street - Suite 301, Seattle WA 98125