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What is Reach Out and Read?

by Julie Nuanes, ROR Coordinator

Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national early literacy program centered in pediatric outpatient clinics and community-based health centers. During routine pediatric visits, doctors give children aged six months to five years a new book and talk to parents about the importance of reading for their child's healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development. Through ROR, every child starts kindergarten with a home library of at least 12 books. Additionally, through this practice, doctors can track a child's development using age and culturally appropriate books.

The ROR program was created in 1998 by former First Lady Hillary Clinton and her colleagues. As the program expanded, Valley-Wide Health Systems was selected as a ROR pilot location.

Today, 21 years later, Reach Out and Read is still going strong at Valley-Wide. Reach Out and Read serves 20 Dental/Medical/PT/ Urgent care clinics, including WIC offices in the SLV, Arkansas Valley, and Fremont county, with Buena Vista on the radar for our future.

VWHS staff, families, and community members donate books to ROR throughout the year. In 2019:

  • Over 3700 books were handed out by VWHS providers to our young patients in our clinics.
  • 3900 books were donated to ROR.
  • 3638 were distributed to our Medical/Dental/ WIC clinics, Head Starts, and community outreach events.

All Medical/ Dental/ Urgent Care and WIC clinics have a children's area, with bookshelves full of gently used books. We encourage children to take the books home.

Our next Reach Out and Read event is coming up in the first week of March as we celebrate the birthday of a beloved children's author, Dr. Seuss. Stay tuned for more info about this event!