Adding “reading” to the check-up list: National literacy program Reach Out and Read’s new breed of pediatricians — part doctor, part teacher — help parents share books with their children to encourage cognitive development.
But why the doctor’s office? Because that’s the one place where all children, including those most at risk, go regularly before they enter school.
Without some school experience before first grade, most low-income children are almost guaranteed to begin school behind everyone else.
And we are talking about a lot of children here; 5.1 million American children under the age of 5 are growing up in poverty. So what are states doing to get these kids ready for first grade? See for yourself.
Only 10 states and the District of Columbia tell schools they must provide full day kindergarten; 34 states require half-day programs, and six states do not require any kindergarten at all.
Preschool programs like Head Start reach about one-third of 3- and 4-year-olds. And in spite of their proven success, early education programs are now being cut.
That leaves it to programs like Reach Out and Read to pick up the slack. About 11,000 children a year come through the clinic at Bellevue. All are from low-income homes and, for most, English is their second language… More
NOTE: After this segment was filmed, Bellevue Hospital was flooded by Hurricane Sandy and almost all the program’s books were lost. Help rebuild their library by making a monetary contribution here (Donation Category: Reach out and Read) or contact Marie Betancourt at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine other ways you can help.
Now more than ever, we believe that what we do is crucial. We believe that intelligent discourse and unfettered questioning are the foundations for any hope for an engaged citizenry, crucial for democracy and for the health of us all.
—Elaine Katzenberger, Executive Director and Publisher, City Lights Books, San Francisco.