Reach Out and Read

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities, which the U.S. Department of Treasury has designated as an eligible use of SLFRF funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Partnership with medical providers to incorporate early literacy promotion programming into regular checkups
  • Begins in infancy at the new born checkup, continues through age 5
  • Medical professionals supply developmentally appropriate books and give parents guidance and support for reading together with their children

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Preschool-aged children

Program cost

$20 per child per year

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

1989–present

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased time spent reading, improved early literacy environment and language skills
  • Demonstrated effectiveness with African American and Latino parents, including parents who speak English as a second language

Keys to successful implementation

  • Providers should register with Reach Out and Read via their website to receive technical assistance in setting up and maintaining the program.
  • Ensure that more than 75 percent of medical providers take the online Reach Out and Read core training to ensure the program is carried out with fidelity to the model.
  • Make books easily accessible in the clinic. It should be easy for medical providers to gather some books before starting the visit.
  • Consider student appropriateness when choosing books. Make sure linguistically and culturally appropriate books are available.
  • Plan for program sustainability, including funding and designating a Site Coordinator on staff to manage the program.

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