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Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about becoming a Reach Out and Read program site?

1. Is this program for everyone?
The Reach Out and Read model is designed to be implemented by medical professionals who provide primary care to children, ages 6 months through 5 years, as part of the well-child checkup. Both pediatric practices and family practices that see children may participate in Reach Out and Read.

2. How will our clinic, providers, and patients benefit from becoming a Reach Out and Read program?
Reach Out and Read has become an essential part of pediatric practice across the country - from large, urban practices to small, rural clinics. By introducing a beautiful new book at the beginning of a well-child visit, providers find they can better engage and calm the child, provide meaningful, positive literacy promotion messages to the parent or guardian, and build stronger connections with the family. Using the book in the exam room creates an opportunity to talk about other relevant topics - sleep routines, the importance of a child's first 2,000 days, school readiness - and also offers providers a new and valuable tool for monitoring the child's development. And, Reach Out and Read encounters are often the nicest of the provider's day.

3. What is the Reach Out and Read model?
The Reach Out and Read model for literacy promotion has three key elements:

  • Primary care providers (doctors, NPs, PAs, and specially trained public health RNs) are trained to deliver early literacy anticipatory guidance to parents of children 6 months through 5 years of age during each well-child visit. This age-appropriate guidance centers on the importance of: frequent and early exposure to language, looking at board books and naming pictures with infants, rhyme and repetition for gaining phonemic awareness during toddlerhood, and reading interactively (such as asking open-ended questions) when reading with preschoolers.
  • During well-child visits for children ages 6 months through 5 years, the provider gives the child a new, developmentally-appropriate book to take home, building a collection of 8-10 new books in the home before the child goes to kindergarten. The provider also repeatedly prescribes reading aloud, every day.
  • Reach Out and Read program sites also create literacy-rich environments that may include gently-used books for waiting room use or for siblings to take home. In some waiting rooms, Reach Out and Read volunteers model for parents the pleasures and techniques of reading aloud to very young children.

4. How do we know Reach Out and Read is effective?
Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based intervention. Peer-reviewed and published studies show that literacy promoting interventions by a pediatrician using the Reach Out and Read model have a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud. Studies also show that parents who receive books and literacy counseling from their pediatricians are more likely to read to their young children and to bring more books into the home. See the Research tab for more information. 

In June 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared literacy promotion to be an "essential component of pediatric care" for all children, referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention to engage parents and prepare children to achieve their potential in school and beyond. Click here to read the AAP's policy statement. 

5. How many books do we need, and how much do they cost?
Clinics may purchase books from any vendor of their choice. Books are available for purchase from our vendors for approximately $2.75 per book, although quality books are often available for less. We will help you set up accounts with vendors that give active clinics special Reach Out and Read-only discounts. We can work with your clinic to help you purchase bilingual books that meet the needs of your patients.

The number of new books your program site needs will depend on your Annual Book Commitment (ABC), which is equivalent to the annual number of well-child visits for children ages 6 months through 5 years. To determine the estimated cost for books, multiply your ABC by $2.75.

6. How do we find financial support for our books - either new, donated books, or funding for books?
Program sites should consider how they will sustain the program over time. Some practices include book expenditures in their clinic budget. Others solicit private contributions from community service organizations such as Lion's or Rotary Clubs, professional societies, charitable foundations, and/or receive support from their parent organization or provider network. Some program sites hold an annual fundraiser. And still others hold a clinic-wide dress down day, bake sale, car wash, or pancake breakfast. Reach Out and Read program sites have access to resources such as Support a Site materials that can assist you with seeking funding from individuals or small businesses in your community.

The kind of fundraising plan that you need will depend on the size of your population and your budget. If you have a development department, speak with them about your funding needs. Reach Out and Read offers templates for fundraising letters and grant applications (that you can personalize for your own program). Reach Out and Read Minnesota may also be able to assist with your fundraising efforts. 

Local community groups can help your Reach Out and Read program site with fundraising for books, volunteer recruitment, community visibility, and publicity. Reach Out and Read program sites often work with the following groups:

  • High school and college community service groups
  • Civic groups (e.g., Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Junior League)
  • Municipal literacy initiatives
  • Libraries
  • Faith-based organizations

7. Who is in charge of running Reach Out and Read at our program site?
There are two primary roles at each Reach Out and Read program site: the Medical Consultant and Program Coordinator.

8. We want to become a Reach Out and Read Program - what steps should we take now?

  • Review information and steps (above) on how to Start A Program
  • Begin the online application at www.myROR.org
  • Develop a fundraising plan to generate support for your books
  • Contact Kris Hoplin, Reach Out and Read Program Director, with questions (kris@reachoutandreadMN.org).

9. How will our staff be trained in the Reach Out and Read model?

  • Medical providers must complete the Reach Out and Read online CME Course, which offers 1.25 level-one CME credits. After your program site's completed application has been approved, each participating provider will receive individual login information to complete the 1-hour course. 
  • Your program coordinator will have access to an archived Webinar for new Reach Out and Read Coordinators as soon as your clinic's application is approved.
  • Many sites find it helpful to orient the entire practice, including medical assistants and non-medical personnel, during an all-staff meeting. This builds enthusiasm for, commitment to, and understanding of the Reach Out and Read program and model. It also includes them in discussions about which systems are best put into place for: getting the books to the exam rooms, the practical issues such as book storage and a tracking system, as well as ideas for creating your literacy-rich waiting room. Reach Out and Read Minnesota staff may be able to visit the clinic or attend a meeting with clinic staff. 

10. What books should we choose for our families?
The Reach Out and Read model calls for the provider to give a new, age- and culturally-appropriate book in the exam room at each well-child visit. There are a number of ways that you can procure books for your program site.

Reach Out and Read vendor partners each publish book catalogs available to approved programs. Reach Out and Read programs may also choose to purchase high-quality children's books through book specials offered by other publishers and book distributors. We routinely post such offers on myROR.org. You can also ask local individuals, service organizations and booksellers to hold book drives for NEW books for your program site.

The Reach Out and Read Program Coordinator Manual has a section devoted to children's books, as well as suggestions for ordering, tracking, and storing your book supply.  You will get access to the manual when your site's application has been approved. Reach Out and Read Minnesota staff can also provide tips and advice.

Many Reach Out and Read programs also like to have gently-used books available in the waiting areas for parents to share with children as they wait, for siblings tagging along to the checkup, for sick visits, and/or for visits outside the age guidelines of the program. Gently-used children's book drives can be hosted by school children, scouting troops, faith-based groups, Rotary and Lions Clubs, etc.

11. How can we create a literacy-rich environment?
Reach Out and Read program sites recognize that literacy awareness and encouragement starts even before the appointment begins, in the waiting areas and exam rooms. An environment that fosters reading and is filled with literacy resources can reinforce the anticipatory guidance offered during the well-child visit. Since children and parents sometimes spend time waiting, this time can be well spent sharing books together! 

  • A basket or bookshelf of donated, gently-used children's books can be placed in almost any area.
  • Larger waiting areas might create a separate children's reading area, complete with bookshelf/bookcase full of used books, child-sized chairs and table, and a colorful rug.
  • Reach Out and Read has poster designs (such as our Reading Tips of Milestones or Early Literacy Development) for you to print out and hang on waiting room walls.
  • Post information about the local library: location, story hours, how to get a library card, etc.
  • When possible, recruit volunteers to read aloud! This models the techniques - and joys - of reading aloud.
  • Display photos of providers or local celebrities reading to children.
  • Provider pamphlets or information about health literacy, family literacy, and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) resources available in the community.
  • Encourage all clinic staff to help promote literacy and reading together. We often hear that the receptionist, upon check-out, will ask the child, "What book did you get today?"  
  • Review the American Academy of Pediatrics Books Build Connections Literacy Toolkit for additional tips and ideas on promoting reading aloud. 

Have another question about Reach Out and Read?
Contact Kris Hoplin, Program Director, at kris@reachoutandreadMN.org or 612-250-1217.