For 15 years, several generous donors have supported OneWorld’s Reach Out and Read program. The program provides children between the ages of six months and five years with a book every time they attend well-child checkups. During pediatric exams, our providers make a point to emphasize the importance of literacy by encouraging parents to read aloud to children. Providers can also demonstrate to parents how best to look at books and talk to infants, toddlers and preschoolers about the stories.
“Some of our patient families have extremely limited resources, in both money and time,” Dr. Wes Meyer, a OneWorld pediatrician and supporter of the Reach Out and Read program, said. “No books, no magazines, no time or transportation to get to the library. It becomes clear that, in order for those children to have any chance to succeed academically, they’re going to need outside help.”
Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based practice; 15 independent studies published in medical journals have found that the program is effective in promoting literacy. According to one study published in Pediatrics, high-risk urban families participating in Reach Out and Read read to their children more frequently, and children exposed to Reach Out and Read have higher receptive and expressive language scores. Additionally, multiple studies have shown that children who are read to at a young age show progress not just in literacy, but also in total psychological functioning.
In addition to handing out books at appointments and encouraging patient families to read, Dr. Meyer personally donates to OneWorld to support the program because he sees the impact that books can have on young children.
“My nephew could read simple books when he was 2,” Dr. Meyer said. “He was reading chapter books halfway through kindergarten last year when other students were still working on their letters. He is of average intelligence, but he has had a book or children’s magazine close at hand his entire life. And, more importantly, he has two parents in the home who love him and read to him every night.”
Sometimes, Dr. Meyer noted, the books received at OneWorld pediatric appointments affect patient families more than one might think simple picture books could.
“Patients are happy to get these books,” he said. “I don’t make many house calls, but I have gone to a few patients’ houses. In one house in particular, the only books I saw were our Reach Out and Read books.”
Dr. Meyer says he has heard a few questions over the years about why patients receive free books from a clinic when they could check them out from the library instead, but he explains that going to the library is not always a possibility for families who are short on time or who have financial limitations.
“Some families would be hesitant to check books out for fear of having to buy new ones if their child damages them,” he said. “It’s also good for children to own books so that they can hear the same story many, many times. That repetition helps them learn. If the book gets turned in in two weeks, they lose that learning opportunity.”
While our goal is to provide a book for every young child who attends an appointment at any OneWorld clinic, OneWorld does not always have the resources to make this happen at our satellite clinics or even at our main campus in South Omaha. According to Dr. Meyer, books are always in high demand, so any donations (book or monetary) for the program are greatly appreciated. Donations of bilingual books (in English and Spanish) are especially helpful for families who know or are learning two languages.
If you would like to support OneWorld’s Reach Out and Read program, you can do so in one of three ways:
- Designate a donation to the Reach Out and Read program. To donate online, visit www.oneworldomaha.org/donate and select “Reach Out and Read – Early literacy program” under the “Designation” drop-down menu.
- Send a check made out to “OneWorld Community Health Centers” with “Reach Out and Read” in the memo line. OneWorld will use these funds to purchase new books for the program. Checks can be mailed to 4920 S. 30th St. Suite 103, Omaha, NE 68107 (attn: Development).
- Donate new and gently used children’s books to OneWorld or organize a community book drive. Contact OneWorld’s Development team if you have a donation to deliver.
To learn more about OneWorld’s Reach Out and Read program, contact the Development team by emailing Development@oneworldomaha.org.