Reach Out and Read Logo

News from Reach Out and Read Washington State
In This Issue
Parent-Child Reading Stimulates Brain Development
Reach Out and Read Washington State on Facebook
About Reach Out and Read Washington State
Support Reach Out and Read in Washington
August 2015

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
--William Butler Yeats

As the end of summer nears, I wish the images popping into mind were not of the forest fires burning across Washington State. The dry winter coupled with a hot summer has led to fires beyond even the worst predictions. Areas distant from the fire on both sides of the mountains are seeing smoke instead of blue skies, reminding us of the pain that others are experiencing. There are Reach Out and Read programs in and near towns that have been evacuated, and we know that means that many families our doctors serve are experiencing trauma. Our thoughts remain with them and the firefighters, as we hope for favorable changes in the weather and a positive path forward for children, families, and communities.
There is no way to make anything good out of fires that threaten lives and homes. But perhaps this quote can help turn the nightmare vision of a rapidly growing fire toward the vision of a spark leading to something positive. I think of children's eyes lighting up with interest, their passion being sparked, and their natural quest for knowledge gathering its own momentum. This all starts with the wonderful give-and-take between parent and baby, the joy at recognizing another human face, of seeing it respond, of vocalizing, and hearing a response. Experience with young children readily demonstrates this, and brain research tells us more and more about how it happens.
Sharing books with young children is like lighting a fire. Each baby's brain is wired to interact, to learn, to take in everything around it, and to toss it back and forth with a loving adult, learning all the while. Once attuned to this you can almost "see" the neurons connecting when you look at a child. And just like a fire, the learning takes off once it starts. All babies can do this--but they need the spark of human interaction to light the fire. And that spark is made stronger by the addition of a book--it strengthens what happens in that relationship--and the child's educational outcomes will be better!
This month we're excited to share with you the latest brain research on books and young children. It takes us further toward understanding how reading children's books help spark that fire and build young children's brains. It affirms how important Reach Out and Read books, and the parent-child interactions they inspire, really are, and how these infant-toddler experiences connect with what children will learn in pre-K and beyond. Read on to learn more about the studies, and the media's attention to them.
We hope you will have time to spark your own learning by enjoying a good book or two as summer ends, and be inspired to help assure all children in our state will be able to do the same. 

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

New research helps explain how reading together sets the stage for success in school. Sometimes seeing is believing. With the latest imaging techniques come more research showing action in the brain tied to what a child experiences. A new study shows that young children whose parents reported reading more and having more books at home had greater activation in a visual area of their brains. Dr. Perri Klass does a masterful job of describing this research and why it matters in her New York Times blog Bedtime Stories for Young Brains. In it, she describes the importance of two new studies:
Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listening to Stories: Published in Pediatrics, the study demonstrates how the visual centers in children's brains who have been read to regularly "light up" in ways not seen in those without that experience.

The Words Children Hear: Picture Books and the Statistics for Language Learning: Published in Psychological Science, this research demonstrates that children's picture books are a likely source for the diverse language exposure that is associated with better language outcomes.

After describing these two studies Dr. Klass concludes, "So reading picture books with young children may mean that they hear more words, while at the same time, their brains practice creating the images associated with those words--and with the more complex sentences and rhymes that make up even simple stories." Read the full story here.
Learn more from the American Academy of Pediatrics and news outlets CNN to the Huffington post:  



Find us on Facebook


Follow Reach Out and Read Washington State on Facebook for early literacy news, reading tips, and brain research information. Please LIKE us and suggest our Facebook page to your friends to help 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 influence of children's doctors and makes literacy a standard part of well-child checkups from birth through 5 years. Reach Out and Read supports parents as their child's first teacher and helps children be ready for kindergarten. 


Through 182 programs in 31 counties, 1,500 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.



Email -

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

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