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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
American Academy of Pediatricians Policy Satement Highlights Early Literacy
National Partners To Support Doctors' Efforts
National Media Highlights Doctors' Support for Parents and Young Children
Reach Out and Read Washington State on Facebook
About Reach Out and Read Washington State
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June 2014

"Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that
last a lifetime."

---American Academy of Pediatrics


This has been an amazing week for media attention to issues that I, and many of my pediatric colleagues, have been focused on for years. It is exciting to have the needs of very young children and their parents front and center on a national stage, at the same time as my professional organization (the American Academy of Pediatrics) and the national non-profit organization I work for (Reach Out and Read) come together in unprecedented levels of collaboration to promote early literacy. We're doing this with each other, and just as importantly, with a much bigger world of people and organizations, both public and private. Collectively we understand the biological (brain science), health, educational, and economic need for the United States to invest effectively in young children.


And by that I mean starting with parents and babies! Preschool matters, absolutely. But the "30 million word gap" between 4-year-old children in low-income vs. more affluent families highlighted almost 20 years ago by Hart and Risley is clearly measurable at 18 months, according to newer research at Stanford. The gap is not new, the gap is not better, and the gap starts very, very early in life. Cognitive differences have been measured as early as 9 months of age. The stark reality is this--the inequities we see based on both economics and race are present in babies. But there is good news--parents who have children's books and learn how to nurture their child's language development will talk and read with their child and outcomes will improve! Reach Out and Read--an evidence-based program delivered by doctors--is a proven strategy that works for families across cultures, especially those most at risk for poor outcomes.


It's also exciting--and vital--to see a more nuanced understanding of child health and development evolving: the primary role of nurturing parent-child relationships to support both healthy social-emotional development and early language and literacy skills. Children are complex little beings. We must not pit "social-emotional" vs "cognitive" or "Birth to 3" vs. "preschool." Child development is a continuous, interactive, and "whole child" process, with parents as the most important influence over time. What parents know about child development and what they do with their children at home, starting from birth, is tremendously influential in setting a positive life trajectory toward all of the outcomes that we must improve--in education, health, and the economy.


Bette Hyde, Director of the Washington State Department of Early Learning, notes, "It's exciting to see renewed national attention on an issue that we have long supported in Washington. Reading with young children is one of the best ways to build brains and relationships with the adults in their life! Reach Out and Read Washington is one of our key strategies for helping spread that message around the state."


Sam Whiting, President and CEO of Thrive by Five Washington, says, "Reading together promotes language development and parent-child bonding. Both are critical to a child's great start in school and life. We've seen the power of Reach Out and Read Washington, and we're big fans. We're thrilled that Too Small to Fail is now a big fan, too."


Reach Out and Read is a public-private partnership that relies on a vast, varied, and voluntary health care delivery system, filled with medical providers who care deeply about the families in their communities. With these partners and others, we can use the evidence and the current momentum to fully leverage partnerships with pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners and the health care system--as part of our early learning system. If we do that, we can assure that Washington becomes a state that supports parents, so that they can nurture their child's development from the earliest days of life. We can vastly reduce inequities when we focus on babies--all it takes is our collective will to do so. Are you ready? 


Jill Sells MD and the Reach Out and Read Washington Team




AAP Emphasizes Parent-Child Relationships. This week the AAP issued a new national statement Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice. Recognizing brain science, the unique relationship that pediatricians have with families, and the evidence of impact from Reach Out and Read's 25 year history, the AAP issued this statement.


Recommendations include:

(1) Advising all parents that reading aloud with young children can enhance parent-child relationships and prepare young minds to learn language and early literacy skills

(2) Counseling all parents about developmentally appropriate shared-reading activities that are enjoyable for children and their parents and offer language-rich exposure to books, pictures, and the written word

(3) Providing developmentally appropriate books given at health supervision visits for all high-risk, low-income young children


An AAP News story Parents who read to their children nurture more than literary skills emphasizes multiple benefits for families. "When I started with Reach Out and Read years ago, efforts were focused on early literacy and school readiness," said Perri Klass, M.D., FAAP, national medical director of Reach Out and Read and contributing author to the policy statement. "Although those are still tremendously important, the bigger picture now is to help parents build interactions with their children into their everyday lives because this can create nurturing relationships, which promote early brain development, early literacy, language development and school readiness." 




Reach Out and Read on a national stage, connected to every day efforts of doctors in Washington State and across the nation. On Tuesday, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an exciting new national effort to promote early literacy in pediatrics. Reach Out and Read's Executive Director Brian Gallagher and representatives from Scholastic and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) joined Secretary Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Denver to launch a partnership aimed at raising awareness among parents about the importance of early language development. Clinton's Too Small to Fail initiative is also involved in the partnership.


Tied to the AAP Policy Statement described earlier, and Reach Out and Read's ongoing work, we hope that visibility with the business community and new partners will spur action now to implement this vital support for young children and families. "We applaud the AAP's policy statement that encourages families to read aloud to their children from birth. This work should be as much a part of routine well child care as the immunizations I recommend daily," says Dr. Mary Ann Woodruff, Tacoma pediatrician, AAP member, and Reach Out and Read Washington Medical Director. "This IS the work of pediatricians--to help create readers one shared book at a time. My colleagues and I have enthusiastically embraced Reach Out and Read for over 13 years. Now it is time to take this to scale!" 



SeaMar Family

New York Times:  Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children from Birth


PBS NewsHour:  I is for infant: Reading aloud to young children benefits brain development. Includes an interview with Dr. Pamela High, author of the AAP Policy Statement


NPR--Health News:  Never Too Young: Pediatricians Say Parents Should Read To Infants


NPR--All Things Considered:  To 'Immunize' Kids Against Illiteracy, Break Out A Book In Infancy. An interview with Susan B. Neuman, Professor of Early Childhood and Literacy Education at NYU, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. 




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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 influence of children's doctors and makes literacy a standard part of well-child checkups from ages 6 months through 5 years. Reach Out and Read supports parents as their child's first teacher and helps children be ready for kindergarten. 


Through 168 programs in 31 counties, 1,400 medical providers serve an estimated 100,000 children and their families across Washington. Reach Out and Read Washington State is a Regional Office of Reach Out and Read, Inc., a national not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.



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