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By SLJ Staff — School Library Journal, 11/10/2008 2:05:00 PM
Reach Out and Read is expanding its reach. From now on, when a child walks into a pediatrician’s office on one of 20 military bases, he’ll get more than a checkup—he’ll get a new book.
Staff pediatrican Maj. Renee Cevey reads with Jared, son of Staff Sgt. Marlon Robles, during a well-child visit at Wilford Hall Medical Center’s pediatric clinic in Texas. (Photo: U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. Kimberly A. Yearyean-Siers)
The nonprofit literacy organization, which works with hospitals, clinics, and pediatricians across the country to encourage parents to read aloud to their young children, is piloting a program that will reach 90,000, or 25 percent, of the children of U.S. military families worldwide aged from birth to five years old, says Matt Ferraguto a Reach Out and Read spokesman.
Reach Out and Read will train doctors and nurses at military medical facilities on providing a new, age-appropriate book for each six-month to five-year-old child to take home after every checkup, starting with board books for babies followed by more complex picture books for preschoolers.
Along with each free book—which includes titles such as Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed (Clarion, 1989) by Eileen Christelow, Old MacDonald Had A Farm (Penguin, 2008) by Salina Yoon, Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks from A to Z (Random, 1990), and Clifford, The Big Red Dog (Scholastic, 2007) by Norman Bridwell—military health-care providers will also provide advice and tips to parents about reading aloud to their children. The goal is to provide each child who participates in the program with a home library of up to 10 books by the time he starts kindergarten—and to get parents to understand the importance of reading.
Participating military bases will also create literacy-rich waiting rooms, complete with child-size furniture and bookcases, where trained Reach Out and Read volunteers will model reading with the children while their families wait for appointments.
The initiative will be funded by the Department of Defense, thanks to the help of Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who led the Congressional effort to secure $1.1 million in federal funds for the program.
“Reach Out and Read’s Military Initiative will help doctors and nurses at military treatment facilities encourage parents to read to their children and give them the tools to get started,” say Reed, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.