Books and Reading: Evidence-Based Standard of Care Whose Time Has Come

  • Barry Zuckerman
    Address correspondence to Barry Zuckerman, MD, Boston Medical Center, 771 Albany Street, Dowling 3509 South, Boston, Massachusetts 02118.
    Department of Pediatrics (Dr Zuckerman), and Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (Dr Augustyn), Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Mass
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  • Marilyn Augustyn
    Department of Pediatrics (Dr Zuckerman), and Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (Dr Augustyn), Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Mass
    Search for articles by this author


      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.


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