NEWS  from
 Reach Out and Read
 Washington State
JULY 2016

"Our work of lifting up families and building community and supporting one another is our strongest protection against fear and hatred."   --Vu Le

This week could not be more beautiful in Seattle--sunny skies, sparkling waters, and an unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier. Summer is the perfect time to see all of our children joyful, playful, and, of course, reading and learning! However, we know that far too many children, especially the youngest, live in families facing so many challenges. Their summer experience is more likely to be filled with hunger and lack of opportunity for learning, than joy. And behind this idealized scenery in Washington is a backdrop of hatred, violence, and fear across the world. I dread turning on the news to hear what else might have happened. Bad things are not happening equitably, they are often targeting particular people and groups. I remain acutely aware of how privileged my experience is. It is difficult to know what to say or do that will make a difference.

So in the midst of this devastating series of events around the world, I have appreciated reading commentary from Vu Le--the profound and hilarious force behind Nonprofit with Balls. So I'm starting and ending this introduction with quotes from Vu, and I encourage you to read his full posting following Orlando. I do believe that the work that we do at Reach Out and Read--and in all aspects of early learning--is about lifting up families and building community.

We must build community, we must increase equity, and we must support nurturing relationships among both children and adults. We must do more for our youngest children, so they can have real opportunity to thrive. Ultimately that must happen so our children can help us move forward into peace and justice for all. It all starts with babies. And we can do better, if we do it together.

I'll close with Vu's words because I cannot say it any better, "I am deeply grateful for all of you, who work every day to create the kind of community that I want to send my kids out into."

Jill Sells, MD & the Reach Out and Read Washington Team

Support Reach Out and Read in Washington

Photo: The Atlantic, LM Otero/AP

Book Deserts  
The Atlantic shared a persuasive story this month, "Where Books Are All But Nonexistent." Drawing parallels to the concept of food deserts (defined by the USDA as "parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas"), this article outlines how inequities are perpetuated in communities lacking books.

Book deserts should not exist in America! This story provides compelling reasons why the gift of a book is a critical part of each Reach Out and Read visit, and why we need a population-based approach to make sure all children in low-income families have the books they need to learn and thrive.

Photo: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Too Small To Fail

The presidential campaigns, and accompanying commentary, are calling attention to early learning, and that is a good thing. In a recent New York Times editorial Nicholas Kristof makes a case for investing in early learning, noting that "it's in early childhood that the roots of inequity lie." Certainly preschool is called out as a needed investment, but he also says, "Actually, preschool may be a bit late. Brain research in the last dozen years underscores that the time of life that may shape adult outcomes the most is pregnancy through age 2 or 3."

A fairly comprehensive piece despite its short length, he also notes that "The best metric of child poverty may have to do not with income but with how often a child is spoken and read to."

Left to right: Reach Out and Read staff Jessica Mortensen, Hannah Song, and Ron Asher and 
Drs. Meta Lee, Abby Grant, and Becky Shwartz

Celebration of Success

Focused investment in South Seattle and South King County has enabled substantive growth of Reach Out and Read in King County. Noting this, Reach Out and Read was chosen as a presenter at the recent Celebration of Success event, co-hosted by Road Map Project and The Road Map Region Race to the Top.

Thank you to Drs. Meta Lee, Abby Grant, and Becky Shwartz for representing Reach Out and Read at the event and to all the participants who were so interested and engaged in our work! 

About Reach Out and Read Washington State

Reach Out and Read helps prepare children to succeed in school by partnering with 
doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Our evidence- based proven program leverages the influence of children's doctors and makes literacy  a standard part of well-child checkups from birth through 5 years. Reach Out and Read  supports parents as their child's first teacher and helps children be ready for  kindergarten. 
Through 196 programs in 31 counties, 1,600 medical providers serve an estimated  100,000 children and their families across Washington. Reach Out and Read
Washington State is a Regional Office of Reach Out and Read, Inc., a national not-for  profit 501(c)3  organization.