The Reach Out and Read model is designed to be implemented by medical professionals who provide primary care to children, ages 6 months through 5 years, as part of the well-child checkup. Both pediatric practices and family practices that see children may participate Reach Out and Read.

Reach Out and Read has become an essential part of pediatric practices across the country – from large, urban practices to small, rural clinics. By introducing a beautiful new book at the beginning of a well-child visit, providers find they can better engage and calm the child, provide meaningful, positive literacy promotion messages to the parent or guardian, and build stronger connections with the family. Using the book in the exam room creates an opportunity to talk about other relevant topics – sleep routines, the importance of a child’s first 2,000 days, school readiness – and also offers providers a new and valuable tool for monitoring the child’s development. And, Reach Out and Read encounters are often the nicest of the provider’s day.

The Reach Out and Read model for literacy promotion has three key elements:

Primary care providers (doctors, NPs, PAs and RNs) are trained to deliver early literacy anticipatory guidance to parents of children 6 months through 5 years of age during each well-child visit. This age-appropriate guidance centers on the importance of: frequent and early exposure to language, looking at board books and naming pictures with infants, rhyme and repetition for gaining phonemic awareness during toddlerhood, and reading interactively (such as using open-ended questions) when reading with preschoolers.

During well-child visits for children ages 6 months through 5 years, the provider gives the child a new, developmentally-appropriate book to take home, building a collection of 10 new books in the home before the child goes to kindergarten. The provider also repeatedly prescribes reading aloud, every day.

Reach Out and Read program sites also create literacy-rich environments that may include gently-used books for waiting room use or for siblings to take home. In some waiting rooms, Reach Out and Read volunteers model for parents the pleasures and techniques of reading aloud to very young children.

Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based intervention. Peer-reviewed and published studies show that literacy promoting interventions by a pediatrician using the Reach Out and Read model have a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud. Studies also show that parents who receive books and literacy counseling from their pediatricians are more likely to read to their young children and to bring more books into the home. Read a summary of the research that supports Reach Out and Read.

Books are available for purchase, on average, for approximately $2.75 per book, although quality books are available for less (or more!). Additionally, through the Reach Out and Read book catalog, Scholastic offers 10 free books for every $100 spent, even though the books are already generously discounted.

The number of new books your program site needs will depend on your Annual Book Commitment (ABC), which is equivalent to the annual number of well-child visits for children ages 6 months through 5 years. To determine the estimated cost for books, multiply your ABC by $2.75.

Program sites should consider how they will provide for the books needed to sustain the program over time. Some practices write off book expenditures as a business expense. Others solicit private contributions from community service organizations such as Lion’s or Rotary Clubs, from professional societies and charitable foundations, and/or receive support from their parent organization or provider network. Some program sites hold an annual fundraiser. And still others hold a clinic-wide dress down day, bake sale, car wash, or pancake breakfast. Reach Out and Read program sites have access to resources such as Support a Site materials that can assist you with seeking funding from individuals or small businesses in your community.

The kind of fundraising plan that you need will depend on the size of your population and your budget. If you have a development department, speak with them about your funding needs. Reach Out and Read offers templates for fundraising letters and grant applications (that you can personalize for your own program). Reach Out and Read coalitions can also assist with your fundraising efforts (find a coalition in your area).

Local community groups can help your Reach Out and Read program site with fundraising for books, volunteer recruitment, community visibility, and publicity. Reach Out and Read program sites often work with the following groups:

  • High school and college community service groups
  • Civic groups (e.g., Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Junior League)
  • Municipal literacy initiatives
  • Libraries
  • Faith-based organizations

There are two primary roles in each Reach Out and Read program site: the Medical Consultant and Program Coordinator. See above (Start a Program).

  1. Review information and steps (above) on how to Start A Program
  2. Find out if you are located within a Reach Out and Read state or regional coalition and contact its Program Director before making your application. View the list of coalitions.
  3. Develop and implement a fundraising plan to generate support for your books.
  4. Complete the online application at

Medical providers will complete the Reach Out and Read online CME Course, which offers 1.25 level one CME credits. Once your program site has been approved, each participating provider at your program site will receive his or her individual login information to complete the course.

Your program coordinator is encouraged to attend the Webinar for new Reach Out and Read Coordinators, scheduled monthly. When your site is approved, you’ll receive notification of upcoming dates.

Many sites find it helpful to orient the entire practice, including medical assistants and non-medical personnel, during an all-staff meeting. This builds enthusiasm for, commitment to, and understanding of the Reach Out and Read program and model. It also includes them in discussions about which systems are best put into place for: getting the books to the exam rooms, the practical issues such as book storage and a tracking system, as well as ideas for creating your literacy-rich waiting room.

The Reach Out and Read model calls for the provider to give a new, age- and culturally-appropriate book in the exam room at each well-child visit. There are a number of ways that you can procure books for your program site.

Reach Out and Read partners with Scholastic to publish a book catalog available exclusively to approved programs. The books are offered at substantially discounted prices. The catalog is organized by age, making book selection easy. Reach Out and Read programs may also choose to purchase high-quality children’s books from book specials offered by publishers and book distributors. We routinely post such offers on You can also ask local individuals, service organizations and booksellers to hold new, age-appropriate book drives for your program site.

The Reach Out and Read Program Coordinator Manual has a chapter devoted to identifying quality children’s books for use in the intervention, as well as suggestions for ordering, tracking, and storing your book supply.

Many Reach Out and Read programs also like to have gently-used, donated books available in the waiting areas for parents to share with children as they wait, for siblings tagging along to the checkup, and/or for sick visits. Gently-used children’s book drives can be hosted by school children, scouting troops, faith-based groups, Rotary and Lions Clubs, etc.

Reach Out and Read recognizes that children and parents spend time in the waiting room. To take advantage of this time, the Reach Out and Read model recommends using the waiting room to promote the joy of reading aloud and to provide related information such as read-aloud tips and information on the local library. All new program sites receive Reach Out and Read posters to hang. In some Reach Out and Read waiting rooms:

  • Volunteers provide children with positive reading experiences and help parents understand that a picture or storybook is an easy, portable way to keep a young child engaged in almost any situation.
  • Volunteers model read-aloud techniques that show parents by example that reading with children is a vigorous, enjoyable process.

Not all program sites have waiting rooms or wait times suitable for volunteer reader programs. However, all Reach Out and Read programs can develop a literacy rich environment.

For example, Reach Out and Read program sites can:

  • Ask volunteers to collect gently-used books, sort them, and put them out on shelves in the waiting room so children of all ages can read in the waiting room and take them home (if quantities allow).
  • Develop displays on the local library or post short poems, photos of their families (or providers!) reading aloud, and laminated posters in the waiting area.
  • Provide posters and pamphlets about health literacy and family literacy opportunities available in the community.

For San Diego, Reach Out and Read staff members are available at or (858) 361-4644 to provide ongoing technical assistance to our program sites.

Contact or (858) 361-4644.

Tips for Incorporate Books Into the Well-Child Visit

1. Start with the book.
Give a brand-new book at the beginning of the visit, incorporating it during the exam. The book should be age appropriate and culturally sensitive for the specific child. Do not give it as a gift at the end; use it to survey gross and fine motor skills, and cognitive and speech milestones. Model reading the book aloud to the child and explain to the parent what you are doing and why.

2. Observe how the parent and child interact.
Listen to the comments and observe behaviors. Give positive feedback or suggestions. Model effective reading techniques to guide parents: point and name objects and colors, ask child appropriate questions, and employ silly/cute voices (and/or facial expressions) to make reading fun. Give a prescription for reading aloud.

3. Tie everything together.
Help the parent understand the importance of language and development skills. Talk about routines, power struggles, and control issues. Emphasize how reading together helps families create strong emotional bonds and positive lifelong memories.

To become an official Reach Out and Read program, there are a few simple steps to complete: collect routine data, submit an application, and determine how your books will be supplied. Once approved, your providers must complete the online training course on program delivery. There are two important program roles to fill: Medical Consultant and Program Coordinator.

Medical Consultant: the pediatric primary care MD, DO, NP, or PA who is most enthusiastic about Reach Out and Read and wants to champion the cause due to a deep appreciation for the critical first 2,000 days of a child’s life. While not a demanding or time-consuming role, he or she will provide oversight of the clinical components of the program to:

  • Ensure that Reach Out and Read best practices are implemented throughout the pediatric or family practice department;
  • Foster discussion of and create support for efficient systems (book delivery to the exam room)
  • Assure compliance with requisite online training by provider staff;
  • Share relevant information on early literacy and language development that Reach Out and Read makes available from time to time;
  • Act as the medical “face” of the program; connect with the executive leadership of the health center, clinic, or practice.

Program Coordinator*: any interested staff member familiar with the clinic, staff, and patient population.  This role supports the Medical Consultant and is responsible for administrative aspects:

  • Ordering the books;
  • Tracking the number of books distributed;
  • Completing the semi-annual Progress Reports;
  • Ensuring a literacy-rich environment and coordinating volunteer readers (if any).
 Both roles are typically voluntary and take very little time each month.
*A medical provider may fulfill both roles, particularly in small practices. 

Application Timeline:

  1. Start an online application. After you provide basic contact information, your program site will be issued a Site ID and password and redirected to, where the application is finished and submitted. During this time your site’s status is “Application in Process.” (You may repeatedly log in and work on the application over time.)
  2. Along with the application you must also submit a letter of support stating your practice’s commitment to the Reach Out and Read program, signed by the departmental head, clinic medical director or executive director. (Details on how to submit the letter and application are provided in the application.)  Once this is received, your site’s status is “Application Complete.”
  3. Applications completed by the third Monday of each month are reviewed by the Reach Out and Read Application Review Committee during that week.  You can expect to receive an email the following week. Approved applications become “Approved Needs Training.” If your program site does not yet have the funding for a year’s worth of books (100% of your Annual Book Commitment), your application will be placed on the waiting list.
  4. Once the medical providers at your practice have completed the online training, and staff members have been oriented (more information below), your site becomes “Active” and you may start implementing Reach Out and Read at your practice.

Required Application Information:

  • Contact information for the designated on-site Medical Consultant and Program Coordinator, as well as all pediatric and family practice providers seeing children ages birth through five years. This information must be complete and accurately reflect the TOTAL number of participating medical providers.
  • Accurate data on the annual total number of well-child visits (age 6 months through age 5), as well as relevant insurance and demographic information.
  • A statement of commitment to the Reach Out and Read model in the form of a Letter of Support including plans for long-term sustainability. Submit your Letter of Support by one of the following options:
  • Sufficient books (or funds to purchase books) equal to no less than your program site’s Annual Book Commitment (ABC), to ensure one book for each child’s health supervision visit throughout the year, for all children ages 6 months through 5 years.  To estimate annual cost: ABC = # of well-child visits (6 months through 5 years) annually X $2.75, the average cost of a book.
  • List your Reach Out and Read “satellites,” if any, which are any affiliated, off-site clinical locations of your health center, clinic or hospital. They will also be practicing the Reach Out and Read model once their providers are trained. Please complete the Satellite Program Information for each qualifying satellite and list those providers in your application, as well.

Once Your Application Has Been Approved

  1. Medical providers must receive official Reach Out and Read training before implementing the Reach Out and Read program. (information below)
  2. Each Reach Out and Read program site receives a Reach Out and Read/Scholastic pre-paid account into which you can deposit funds for purchasing Scholastic books. After completing training, you will receive your Scholastic Account Number, the Reach Out and Read catalog, and additional information about how to take advantage of this helpful resource.