LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 15, 2010) — Give thanks to America’s service men and women this Veterans Day by giving their children books – and a head start.
As part of its military initiative, Reach Out and Read is launching a virtual book drive to benefit the children of families stationed on 44 U.S. military bases. The book drive will run for two weeks, from Veterans Day until Thanksgiving, benefiting two military sites in Kentucky, Ft. Knox's Ireland Army Community Hospital Pediatric Clinic and Ft. Campbell's Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Young Eagles Clinic, that serve 13, 416 children per year.
In addition to promoting school readiness and early literacy, Reach Out and Read also helps to build routines and strengthen family bonds, which are especially important for military families tested by separation and deployment.
"Kentucky Children's Hospital is so fortunate to be playing a leadership role in the expansion and support of this program that addresses one of our state and country's greatest challenges, illiteracy," said Dr. Donna Grigsby, University of Kentucky associate professor of pediatrics and Reach Out and Read's Kentucky medical director.
Kentucky's Reach Out and Read program is funded by the state through the Kids Now Early Childhood Initiative, and is directed through the UK Department of Pediatrics.
To support the virtual book drive, you can donate a book or sponsor a child in the program.
Along with the free book for every child, doctors and nurses also provide guidance to the parents about the importance of reading aloud with their children every day. The research proves that families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies, stronger language skills, and a six-month developmental edge.
Nationwide, Reach Out and Read doctors and nurses serve 3.9 million children and their families annually at 4,654 pediatric practices, hospitals, clinics, and health centers in all 50 states, targeting those centers which serve children at socioeconomic risk.
In 2007, Reach Out and Read launched its military initiative, expanding its evidence-based model of early literacy promotion to military bases nationwide. Today, the initiative serves more than 90,000 children of military, National Guard, and Reserve families.
Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based, national nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud at regular pediatric checkups. The model includes providing a carefully-selected, new, age-appropriate book for each child to take home from every checkup from 6 months through 5 years.