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Reach Out & Read

Representative Johnson Reads Aloud to Young Children at Decatur Pediatric Group in Support of Reach Out and Read School Readiness Program 2012

Pediatricians and nurses at Decatur Pediatric Group are sending families home from checkups with free books and a very important prescription – "read aloud to your children." Today, Representative Hank Johnson visited the health center, not only to cheer them on, but to practice what doctors preach by reading to a group of young patients.

Decatur Pediatric Group participates in Reach Out and Read, a program that prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read's evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups, by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally-appropriate books to children.

Through Reach Out and Read, each child starts kindergarten with a home library of up to 10 books and a parent who has heard at every health supervision visit about the importance of books and reading. The program begins at the 6-month checkup and continues through age 5, with a special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities.

The program has gained broad bipartisan support in the United States Congress.

Congressman Hank Johnson reads to Children"I'm pleased to be a part of such an important organization as Reach Out and Read, which helps promote early childhood literacy," said Representative Johnson. "Reach Out and Read touches more than 63,000 kids and their families in Georgia and helps them get a jump start on reading – setting the stage for success in the classroom and in life."

Decatur Pediatric Group is one of 7 Programs in Representative Johnson's district that participate in Reach Out and Read, providing books to more than 9,331 children annually. Reach Out and Read serves children at 52 locations across the state of Georgia, reaching more than 61,933 infants, toddlers and preschoolers each year.

Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.

"Research shows that if you intervene in the first five years of life and partner with parents, you can dramatically improve the early literacy skills of a child, putting them on the track for success in school and in life," said Reach Out and Read Chief Executive Officer Earl Martin Phalen. "Childhood development experts tell us that the most important thing that parents can do to prepare their children to succeed in school is to read aloud to them every day."

The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the program has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention.

Reach Out and Read doctors and nurses distribute over 6.5 million books to more than 4 million children and their families annually at 4,946 pediatric practices, hospitals, clinics and health centers in all 50 states.

More than 28,000 medical providers nationwide currently participate in Reach Out and Read.

For more information, visit www.reachoutandread.org.