We seek to give young children a foundation for success through the powerful effects of reading and sharing a story with a loved one. We partner with doctors and nurses to bring the brain-building power of books to families across the state.
At nearly 300 clinics across the state, doctors and nurses trained in our program give books to children and give developmental guidance to parents and caregivers at their children's routine well-child visits. Our program gives young children and their families both the resources and knowledge they need to build a foundation for a lifetime.
Our program reaches children at their most critical period of development, from birth to age five. At the beginning of every visit, a child's healthcare provider will give the child an age and language appropriate book to share with their family. The provider uses this opportunity to gauge the child's early development and give the parents or caregivers guidance on how language-rich interactions, such as reading, singing, and playing together, help a child learn and grow healthily. Our program currently serves nearly 200,000 young children and their families annually, reaching nearly half of all age eligible children in the state. Books are available in over a dozen languages, including Spanish, Somali, Hmong and Ojibwe. Our program is a part of the national Reach Out and Read model, which is based on an abundance of peer-reviewed research. The Reach Out and Read program is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Why it’s important
The first years of a child's life build a foundation for their future. Every book read, every snuggle shared, and every song sung together make a difference that can last a lifetime. The simple act of snuggling up and sharing a book has incredible effects. Reading with a loved one constructs the neural pathways of a child's brain, it makes them feel secure and loved, and it reduces toxic stress, allowing the child to learn and grow healthily. The science makes it clear: books build better brains.
With the high cost of childcare, the pervasive presence of screens, and enormous inequities in education and health outcomes, Minnesota families currently face many tough challenges in supporting their young children's learning. The evidence tells us our program can make a real difference.
Research shows that among participating families:
- Parents and caregivers read more often to their children.
- Children have increased expressive and receptive vocabulary scores.
- Parents and caregivers have higher levels of trust in their children's healthcare provider
- Children have higher rates of attendance at their well-child visits
Want to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of Minnesota children?
Learn how you can get involved.