“The League of Education Voters works on all aspects of public education, and we focus on what works. Reach Out and Read is the perfect example of what works for kids. The medical community’s support and partnership in supporting literacy is critical, effective and proven. Few other efforts can show the return on investment that Reach Out and Read can.”
Frank Ordway, League of Education Voters
One in three children in Washington arrive at kindergarten without the language and literacy skills they need, and children who start behind rarely catch up. Differences between children are measurable as early as 9 months of age, with children living in low-income families and children of color more likely to be behind.
Books at home, parents reading aloud, and early language skills have long been demonstrated to be vital precursors to later success in learning to read. If we start with babies, engaging parents to effectively support language development at home, we can change the trajectory of children’s lives.
By partnering with communities, doctors, and families, we can help all children in Washington arrive ready for kindergarten. This puts them on a path toward reading well by the end of 3rd grade, and onward toward high school graduation.
Reach Out and Read Washington State was launched in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Early Learning and Thrive by Five Washington in 2007. Reach Out and Read is Washington’s statewide parent engagement and early literacy strategy, and the largest early learning program in the state.
In 2010, the Washington State Early Learning Plan was completed. Reach Out and Read is officially embedded within Strategy#10: increase use of early literacy services and programs. We simultaneously address several other priority strategies related to parenting, early learning professional development, and statewide partnerships and mobilization.
We partner with community efforts across the state. There are 10 Early Learning Regional Coalitions, and they are key players with the implementation and ultimate success of the Early Learning Plan. We enjoy working with coalitions to recruit, support and connect Reach Out and Read programs to the community and regional efforts.
Washington also has community-based collective impact efforts to improve educational outcomes. Several of these are “Cradle to Career” initiatives connected with the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading. We are pleased to have Reach Out and Read embedded as a parent engagement and early literacy strategy at the community level in South King County and Tacoma.
Libraries are special partners for Reach Out and Read because they offer books, story time, and other activities for young children; along with many resources to benefit the whole family. Reach Out and Read programs are a perfect place to encourage families to use library services because doctors reach most children in a community, and are trusted by families. We have partnered with local libraries, library systems, and the Washington State Library, and welcome ideas to further strengthen Reach Out and Read-library connections