Books and reading: evidence-based standard of care whose time has come

Acad Pediatr. Jan-Feb 2011;11(1):11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2010.09.007.


Reach Out and Read (ROR) is the only systematically evaluated clinical activity to promote child development in primary care used throughout the United States. The ROR intervention is straightforward: clinicians provide advice about the benefits of reading aloud, as well as directly giving books to high-risk children and parents to take home at each pediatric visit of children aged 6 months to 5 years. ROR builds upon a significant evidence base of the value of reading aloud to young children. The studies evaluating ROR from different sites from subjects from different racial backgrounds and numerous outcome measures are consistently positive. From its initial single site at Boston City Hospital in 1989, to over 4600 clinical sites in 2010, over 30 000 clinicians distributed over 6.2 million books a year to 3.9 million children across the United States. The future efforts for ROR include integrating mental health competencies found in American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines as part of residency and clinician training into the ROR paradigm, quality improvement to ensure fidelity to the intervention, and expanded pediatric clinician involvement in local early childhood/school readiness community efforts. Finally, the most important future goal is the adoption of giving advice about reading aloud and giving developmentally appropriate books to high-risk families as best practice by official bodies.

MeSH terms

  • Books
  • Child, Preschool
  • Early Intervention, Educational / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / education
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Pediatrics / education
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Pediatrics / standards
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Reading*
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States