Literacy Builds Life Skills as Well as Language Skills

Just a year ago, a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Brody and colleagues described a neuroimaging study demonstrating that supportive parenting prevented the reduced growth of certain areas of the brain that occurred as a response to living in poverty. This new research showed that positive parenting can overcome the effects of poverty on healthy brain development in adolescents.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Perri Klass, Reach Out and Read National Medical Director, reiterated the role that parents play in  healthy brain development in their child. “And as more and more attention was drawn to early brain development, it seemed clear, that as we talked about getting books into children’s hand and children’s homes that what we were really trying to do was help foster the language-rich parent-child interactions that build children’s brains," said Klass. “The more we understand about the developing brain, the clearer it becomes that children need interaction; they are constantly learning, but they need adults and voices and interactions for that learning to take place.”

According to 2017 Alabama Kids’ Count Data Book, almost 300,000 of our state’s children live in poverty and only 38.3 percent of our children have a fourth-grade reading proficiency.  Reach Out and Read-Alabama is an evidenced-based program supported by independent, published research studies showing that the children we serve:

·       are read to more often by their parents,

·       have improved language skills

·       have a greater love of reading.

“When we speak of literacy and literacy promotion, we need to acknowledge how much literacy encompasses. Yes, it’s a key to success in school, with all that implies about life trajectory, earning power, and socioeconomic status," emphasized Klass.

In the past eleven years, Reach Out and Read-Alabama, a program of the Alabama Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics, has prescribed almost two million books. Each time a physician takes a book into the room and shares it with the child and provides instruction to the parent(s) about sharing the book together, they are creating the possibility for a brighter future for that child.