The Important Business of Books
Books are magic. Time spent reading books is time where the stresses of day to day life are removed, and adults and children alike, while snuggled up on the couch together, can get lost in a story or in a character. Beautiful things happen when books are shared.
However, it’s not happening for enough children in our State. Only 48 percent of parents read to their young children daily. And as a result, more than 34 percent of American children enter kindergarten without the basic language skills they will need to learn to read. Despite the billions of dollars invested in remedial reading programs, those millions of children likely won’t catch up. Reading difficulty can contribute to school failure, which increases the risk of absenteeism, dropping out, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy. These factors perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.
An ounce of prevention is a solid investment.
Hard research confirms that reading to children may break this cycle and improve their chances of success in life. Reach Out and Read is a national, nonprofit, school-readiness organization that helps doctors spread this crucial message. The program provides funding for books, as well as early literacy training for pediatricians and nurse practitioners.
Through Reach Out and Read, doctors give every child 6 months through 5 years old a new, developmentally-appropriate children's book to take home and enjoy. Waiting rooms are stocked with information about Reach Out and Read, and books instead of toys. Doctors and nurses speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud to their young children, and prescribe reading for families every day. Just as we give prescriptions for medications, doctors also give prescriptions for kids to read. This is a prescription that really makes a difference.
And it works. Across the country, families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often. Their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills. They’re better prepared to achieve their potential.
We see the results of this everyday in our programs across North Carolina - patients come to their routine visits looking forward to getting a new book and building their in-home collection. They are quick to identify words on signs and enjoy spending time at the library. Simply put, they’re learning to love to read.
Why does this matter for the business leaders of North Carolina?
It is estimated that "... for every $1 spent on quality early childhood education, we save $17 by reducing the need for special education, children repeating grades, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, high school dropouts, long-term welfare, and incarceration costs. Because the brain loses its adaptability as the child becomes older, the earlier the intervention to counteract the impact of poverty, the better the outcome. (J. Shonkoff, Closing the Science-Policy Gap, National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Harvard University, 2007.) Reach Out and Read is working with health care providers to help close this achievement gap.
The payoff on the investment is clear. Nationwide, there’s a 17:1 return on investment for evidence-based early childhood interventions, according to research cited in the Chamber’s report by Arthur J. Rolnick, then-senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Robert Grunewald, associate economist.
Currently, Reach Out and Read has 135 programs across North Carolina, a number that has doubled over the last 2 years alone, that serve more than 125,000 children annually. Nationwide, more than 28,000 medical providers offer Reach Out and Read to nearly 4 million children hospitals, health centers, and clinics.
Recently, the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce issued a report noting that “global competition for human talent and innovation, long-standing educational achievement gaps, low high school graduation rates, and the pending retirement of 77 million baby boomers have placed tremendous workforce pressures on American business. These pressures, if not checked, will jeopardize our national economic security, and the viability of the American dream.”
Reach Out and Read – Part of your successful business strategy.
Reach Out and Read is helping to support the continued development of an educated workforce, essential for a healthy economic future in North Carolina. We must invest in children early. In North Carolina, Reach Out and Read will continue to dramatically expand in the coming years to reach more children and families with this evidence-based program model. We need the support of the entire community, including our business leaders, to make this evidence-based program a reality for all children in our State.
Please contact the Reach Out and Read Carolinas office to get involved: Callee Boulware, Regional Director 828-290-9049 www.reachoutandread.org Callee.firstname.lastname@example.org