Methodological review of the quality of reach out and read: does it "work"?

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014 Apr;53(4):343-50. doi: 10.1177/0009922813507995. Epub 2013 Nov 14.


A considerable percentage of American children and adults fail to learn adequate literacy skills and read below a third grade level. Shared book reading is perhaps the single most important activity to prepare young children for success in reading. The primary objective of this manuscript was to critically review the methodological quality of Read Out and Read (ROR), a clinically based literacy program/intervention that teaches parents strategies to incorporate while sharing books with children as a method of preventing reading difficulties and academic struggles. A PubMed search was conducted. Articles that met three criteria were considered. First, the study must be clinically based and include parent contact with a pediatrician. Second, parental counseling ("anticipatory guidance") about the importance of parent-child book reading must be included. Third, only experimental or quasi-experimental studies were included; no additional criteria were used. Published articles from any year and peer-reviewed journal were considered. Study quality was determined using a modified version of the Downs and Black (1998) checklist assessing four categories: (1) Reporting, (2) External Validity, (3) Internal Validity-Bias, and (4) Internal Validity-Confounding. We were also interested in whether quality differed based on study design, children's age, sample size, and study outcome. Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. The overall quality of evidence was variable across all studies; Reporting and External Validity categories were relatively strong while methodological concerns were found in the area of internal validity. Quality scores differed on the four study characteristics. Implications related to clinical practice and future studies are discussed.

Keywords: Reach Out and Read; literacy; methodological review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Books*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / education*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Reading*
  • United States