Lancaster, PA Gifts That Give Hope Fair

Why emphasize early literacy?

Some thoughts from Dr. Heidi Kistler, proponent of Reach out and Read, Lancaster

"In the great green room,

There was a telephone,

And a red balloon,

And a picture of... The cow jumping over the moon!"


Ring any bells?  Hopefully, you have experienced the joy of reading Goodnight Moon to a child, or had it read to you when YOU were a child.  Unfortunately, that’s not the routine in every household.  Children growing up in poverty are much less likely to be read to, and many do not even have age-appropriate books in their homes; they learn new words more slowly as a result.  Differences in vocabulary between children growing up in households where socioeconomic status is low compared to high are already detectable at 18 months of age, and continue to widen as they approach school age.  This puts them at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of pre-literacy skills and, ultimately, school readiness.


Although the reasons for this vocabulary disparity are complex, fortunately, there is an answer to closing the gap!  Lancaster County Reach Out and Read Coalition is the local face of the national non-profit Reach Out and Read program, which has been using pediatric healthcare providers to promote early literacy and school readiness since 1989. 


The Reach Out and Read model uses a 3-part approach:

1)      Pediatric health care providers “prescribe” daily reading to all families, counsel on the importance of reading and the dialogue it generates, and give age-appropriate anticipatory guidance with respect to developing literacy skills.

2)      Offices are “literacy-rich” – with signage promoting reading and gently used books available for all children to read during their visit and take home with them, if they choose.

3)      All children receive a new, age-appropriate book at each well visit from 6 months through 5 years of age.


The best part is… IT WORKS!


Parents served by Reach Out and Read are up to four times more likely to read aloud to their children.

Children served by Reach Out and Read score up to 6 months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests.

Think of it as poverty prevention: kids that are read to from infancy are more likely to do well in school.  Kids that do well in school are more likely to stay in school.  Kids that stay in school and graduate are far less likely to live in poverty as adults.

No wonder Reach Out and Read has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics!

Lancaster County Reach Out and Read Coalition has been operating for over a decade and has served thousands of children, but we need community support to continue our current efforts and, hopefully, expand to additional primary care offices.

This is our second year participating in Gifts That Give Hope.  Please come check out our table!  You can also find us at:



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only celebrate the special occasion with a unique gift, you also give back to the community.


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November 07, 2017
August 28, 2017

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