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News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
Equal Opportunity Begins with Babies
Babies' Brains "Practice" Speaking
Developmental Specialists Embrace Reach Out and Read
Eastside Partnership Supports Families at Public Health Center
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About Reach Out and Read Washington State
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July 2014

"Education embraces the physical, moral, and intellectual instruction of a child from infancy to manhood."


"I consider the proper education of youth one of the most important objects now to be attained, and one from which the greatest benefits may be expected."


--Robert E. Lee, Civil War General and President of
what is now Washington and Lee University (1865-1870)


I try to be open-minded, knowing that the assumptions we might make about people are often not the real, or at least not the full, story. But I do confess I did not expect to find interest in a "whole child" approach to early learning starting in infancy from a Confederate General from the Civil War! Recently my family stopped in Lexington, Virginia to visit the beautiful Chapel at Washington and Lee, and I was surprised to read these quotes from Robert E. Lee in the Museum.


My husband and I recently returned from a summer road trip with our teenagers, which I'm now describing as a trip from the Civil War to Civil Rights. Our son had just completed A.P. U.S. History, and it was fun to have him teach us, as what he learned came to life during our travels. We flew into Washington, D.C., and our first stop heading south was Manassas National Battlefield Park, the site of the Battles of Bull Run during the Civil War. On previous trips to Abraham Lincoln-related National Park sites we have tried to wrap our minds and hearts around the devastating loss of life during the Civil War. As we stood this time in the green rolling hills of Virginia, we tried to imagine all the young men who died there. It was incredibly sobering.


After visiting Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia, we traveled through the beautiful Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain National Parks in North Carolina and Tennessee. We experienced Southern hospitality, BBQ, and blue grass and country music. Our final day was in Atlanta, focused on the Civil Rights movement. We visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, where he was both born and buried. Spending time in his childhood home, and in the church where both he and his father preached, gave us a better feel for the personal side of the man, while the displays and videos helped us picture Atlanta and the South in the 1960s. Our last stop before heading to the airport was the newly opened National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The three hours we spent there were not enough--but it was still an astounding visit. I cannot begin to describe what we learned or felt, but I hope that it will inspire all of us to continue to seek justice throughout our lives.


This newsletter circles back to the quote we started with--and the need for equity in opportunity, across race, economics, gender and every aspect of human life from cradle to career. Read on for our guest editorial in the Seattle Times, the latest language study from I-LABS, and stories about bringing opportunity to children with disabilities and to the diverse populations served by a public health clinic. From 1861 to 2014, we've come a long way, but we still have far to go. Thank you for joining with us toward true opportunity for all.


Jill Sells MD and the Reach Out and Read Washington Team



Seattle Times column emphasizes the role of doctors in supporting parents as their child's first teachers. In The critical role of doctors in early learning, Drs. Jill Sells and Mary Ann Woodruff add a new dimension to The Seattle Times Education Lab series in early learning. The essay starts with "Equal opportunity is at the heart of many civic discussions, from preschool to the minimum wage. Rarely is it emphasized that a child's chance to reach his or her potential is greatly impacted by what happens before he or she utters a word."

Walking through elements of language development and the crucial role of parents, the essay closes with the opportunity and call to action. "We must teach families how language develops, and support them so that they talk and read regularly with their children, starting in infancy. Parents are eager to support their child's potential, and generally trust guidance from their child's doctor. By using the health-care system to support parents as first teachers, we can effectively and efficiently reach all families. Together we can reduce inequities before they take root, helping to fundamentally transform education in Washington State, starting with babies."

Printed in the paper on July 30, and placed in the Education Lab Blog Online, we encourage you to read the full column, share with others, and comment.




    Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, UW


A year-old baby sits in a brain scanner, called magnetoencephalography - a noninvasive approach to measuring brain activity. The baby listens to speech sounds like "da" and "ta" played over headphones while researchers record her brain responses.


I-LABS study shows infant brains "lighting up" in motor speech centers. This new research from the University of Washington demonstrates just why it is so important for babies to hear lots of words from their parents and caregivers, starting in infancy.


"Most babies babble by 7 months, but don't utter their first words until after their first birthdays," said lead author Patricia Kuhl, who is the co-director of the UW's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. "Finding activation in motor areas of the brain when infants are simply listening is significant, because it means the baby brain is engaged in trying to talk back right from the start and suggests that 7-month-olds' brains are already trying to figure out how to make the right movements that will produce words."


In the Seattle Times article UW study: Babies practice speech long before they can talk, Dr. Kuhl describes this research as "a new way of looking at a variety of things we know about babies: They love listening to us talk, they love listening to exaggerated talk and they love social games." This is further scientific evidence behind what children need to grow and thrive--parents and caregivers engaged in "conversations" from birth with babies. Like most things in life, practice makes all the difference! 



Dr. Emily Myers introduces a Reach Out and Read book to a family. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Children's Hospital)


Seattle Children's Hospital's Clinic brings books and literacy advice to families of children with disabilities. Reach Out and Read Medical Champion and Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrician, Dr. Emily Myers, explains why. "As a pediatric subspecialist, the children that I have the privilege to see in my practice are often experiencing language, learning, and behavioral challenges. Providing opportunities for specialist clinicians like myself to partner with families in concrete ways to promote development in this particularly fragile population is critical. The Reach Out and Read program seamlessly fits into my clinic visits, gives a feeling of empowerment to the families I serve, and guides children and their parents toward healthy developmental relationships and practices."


The Developmental Medicine Clinic is a pediatric specialty clinic serving children and adolescents that face a range of developmental and behavioral challenges at Seattle Children's. Although most Reach Out and Read programs are in the primary care setting, children facing developmental challenges benefit from the program in this setting as well. These parents and children spend time with specialists and often develop a close relationship with their subspecialist. Incorporating Reach Out and Read into this clinic offers an effective way for providers to further support their patients and deliver tailored literacy guidance to parents, while addressing the unique needs of their child's language development. Further, Reach Out and Read research demonstrates a "dose effect"--more visits create greater impact. Families of children with disabilities are a great audience to receive the program at a "higher dose," and ideally will receive it through their primary care provider, as well as their specialists.


This clinic joins a long-standing program at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, where the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic has been part of Reach Out and Read since 1998. Nurse Practitioner Jodie Zaricor, ARNP, is one of Washington's most passionate Reach Out and Read champions, demonstrating how valuable this program is to the families served in her clinic. She describes how it helps to 'normalize' the parenting experience after families have spent time in a hospital nursery caring for a fragile baby. See the New Day Northwest TV special with Jodie and Dr. Sells to learn more about how the program works so well for families of children with special needs.



Photo courtesy of King County Library Foundation

Eastgate Public Health Center is pleased to announce the addition of a new book kiosk in their clinic's waiting area. This is the latest effort to create a literacy-rich environment in the clinic. The acquisition and installment of the book kiosk was developed through a partnership with Leadership Eastside and the King County Library System Foundation. Eastgate Public Health Clinic's Reach Out and Read Medical Champion, Dr. Diana Lindner, is an excellent advocate for Reach Out and Read and for partnerships with community organizations. She says that "the book kiosk is a natural expansion of the Reach Out and Read program that we started in 2008, and that has been enthusiastically received and heavily patronized by the families who receive care at the clinic."

Partnerships like these help build stronger communities, increase awareness around important issues like early education, literacy, and health, and build a continuum of services to meet the needs of families. We are excited for the parents and children who will have the opportunity to read high quality books in the waiting room!




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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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