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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
New Day Northwest Highlights Reach Out and Read
Washington State Leads in Early Learning
Basic Education Commentary Includes Early Learning
Pediatrician Blog Supports Parents
Reach Out and Read Washington State is on Facebook
About Us
Support Reach Out and Read in Washington

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September 2012



"It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex."

-Washington State Constitution, article IX, section 1


Tune into media of any kind and you'll hear messages about the need to improve education and address this "paramount duty." While we are neither legal nor policy experts, Reach Out and Read has been part of the education conversation since the program started in Boston in 1989. Doctors and educators recognized that providing children with books, and encouraging parents to read aloud at home, would help children be ready for school. Twenty-three years later, we know Reach Out and Read works. Parents who participate read more often at home, children have improved language skills, and they enter kindergarten more ready for school. So why is this so important to talk about? Put simply, too many children in Washington enter and progress through the K-12 educational system without the skills they need.


According to OSPI, we are up against some daunting statistics:

  • Only 43% of children arrive at kindergarten with expected language, communication and literacy skills (WaKIDS Pilot)
  • Only 69% of all students are proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade
  • Only 56% of students living in low-income families are proficient in 3rd grade reading
  • Only 55% or fewer students in certain demographic groups are proficient in 3rd grade reading; including Black, Pacific Islander, Hispanic and American Indian students
  • Only 78% of Washington students who enter high school have graduated 5 years later

So depending on which statistic you want to focus on, we are failing somewhere between 22 and 57% of children in Washington!


Improving outcomes for students across Washington State requires urgent focus and action. The good news is that there is a growing commitment to embrace early learning as part of the education continuum, recognizing that we must strategically invest in birth through age 5 in order to improve K-12 outcomes. Focusing on improving outcomes for kids, and putting in place the systems and supports needed to do so as quickly as possible, is where the conversation needs to be. This month we feature some editorials which delve into the importance of preschool, and recognize the educational continuum from birth through 3rd grade.


We started Reach Out and Read Washington State in 2007 to support parents as their child's first teachers, so that they could help their children be ready for kindergarten. We began in partnership with the Department of Early Learning and Thrive by Five Washington soon after they were created. Our approach has always been in alignment with child care and preschool strategies, and with early elementary education, working together toward helping children read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade. So while we are delighted with increasing support for preschool, Reach Out and Read will continue to address--and speak for--the simultaneous needs of parents, especially those with the youngest children, and those with the least resources.


We must not forget that disparities in cognitive skills are measurable as early as 9 months of age, a time when the vast majority of children are home with parents or other informal caregivers. Three years of age is too late to start making sure children in Washington get off to a good start. Impacting early learning from birth means supporting children's learning in the context of parent-child relationships, throughout the continuum from birth into elementary school.


We can support early learning across the state in a cost-effective way through Reach Out and Read. This is a program parents want, that is embraced across cultures, that is efficiently scalable through the health care system, and is proven to improve children's early language and literacy skills. Starting Reach Out and Read in infancy supports parents as their child's first teachers so they can help their children along a trajectory toward reading proficiently at 3rd grade, and onward toward high school graduation. Educational success begins with babies in the arms of their parents. Only when we recognize and support this will Washington be on track toward "ample provision for education of all children."


Please watch our two short TV segments and read the commentaries below. We can and must do more for very young children, and the time is now. Thank you for your support.


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



Conversations demonstrate power of Reach Out and Read to support parents as their child's first teachers. This month launched our four-part series with Margaret Larson, host of New Day Northwest on King5 TV. We appreciate the chance to share the story of Reach Out and Read with a broad audience.


Dr. Mary Ann WoodruffThanks to Dr. Mary Ann Woodruff, Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Washington State, and pediatrician at Pediatrics Northwest, PS., for helping introduce Reach Out and Read on our first show. Dr. Woodruff has been caring for children in Tacoma for more than 20 years, and she has been practicing "with Reach Out and Read" for more than a decade. This year she and her partners in four different clinics will give about 10,000 books to families during Reach Out and Read visits. As she likes to say "Reach Out and Read is simple, it's fun, it's inexpensive, and, most importantly, it works."


Ben Danielson This week we delved more into the need, the evidence base, and how Reach Out and Read supports children living in low-income households, thanks to Dr. Ben Danielson from Odessa Brown Children's Clinic. We also talked more specifically about the needs of children and families in South Seattle and South King County, and our work as part of the Road Map Project's Birth-3rd Grade Action Plan. This partnership is an example of collective impact, and demonstrates how Reach Out and Read aligns with and supports the type of P-3 and preschool efforts described in the following commentaries.


Click below to watch the two shows (about 6 minutes each), and stay tuned for the remaining two!


Introduction to Reach Out and Read with Dr. Mary Ann Woodruff


Reach Out and Read at Odessa Brown and in the Road Map Region with Dr. Ben Danielson


Supporting Children with Disabilities and their Families with Jodie Zaricor, ARNP (9/24/12)


Supporting Children and Families who are English Language Learners with Dr. Diana Lindner (10/2/12) 


Links to the shows are also featured at


We thank our campaign sponsors:

MultiCare Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center

Foundation for Early Learning

Seattle Children's



 Mary Bridge Logo   


Foundation for Early Learning 


Seattle Children's Logo 




 Two kids Frog and Toad  


School district partnerships support early learners through "P-3" work. It has been exciting to watch deep and strategic partnerships develop over time in the work of "pre-K-3rd grade," with significant leadership from school districts in Washington State. It wasn't too many years ago that most schools were not thinking about children before kindergarten. Now many are leading efforts to connect with early learning providers, and to support a continuum of early learning through 3rd grade. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been helping support this work for years, actively working with districts across the state, and encouraging them to embrace their role as partners in early learning. Read Jodi Haavig's Seattle Times column Why early learning is critical for kindergarteners to learn more.





Editorials recognize continuum of education, starting with investments in early learning. References to education are everywhere, from sound bites in the media to more in depth conversations among leaders, educators, parents and the public. The answers aren't simple, but the conversation is vital, because change is sorely needed. The Seattle Times is among those focusing attention on education, coining the phrase "3 to 23 Education" to stimulate discussion.


"The Seattle Times editorial board urges state leaders to embrace a '3-to-23' vision that not only improves the K-12 system, but also gets children ready for kindergarten and ensures a college education is affordable."  Read more in Washington state must embrace a new vision for education.  




Ask Dr. Terry


Children's Trust Foundation features "Ask Dr. Terry." Dr. Michelle Terry brings weekly tips on parenting, nutrition, and ideas for supporting a stronger, healthier family. With twenty years of experience in pediatrics in the Seattle area, Dr. Terry brings the unique perspective of a primary care provider, University of Washington School of Medicine professor, Children's Hospital doctor, child advocate, foster care consultant and mom to her weekly column.


Check out Dr. Terry's column on Early Literacy including Reach Out and Read, and see her earlier Learning for Life TV segment where she talks about language development.





Find us on Facebook


Reach Out and Read Washington State is on Facebook.  Please LIKE us.  If you could also suggest our Facebook page to your friends, that would go a long way in helping us spread our message about early literacy. Thanks! 



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 134 programs in 29 counties, almost 900 medical providers serve an estimated 83,000 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