Jo's Reach Out and Read Book Club was founded in February 2000 at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in memory of Johanna Swan, daughter of Vanderbilt pediatrician Rebecca Swan and her husband Michael, a Nashville obstetrician. In addition to the Swans' generous donation, additional support is currently received from the Mills Corporation.
Jo's Reach Out and Read Book Club is a local chapter of a national effort, Reach Out and Read, which now has over 1400 sites located in children's hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S. The goals of Reach Out and Read are threefold:
Why? Research has now demonstrated that early intervention and enhancement of parent/child reading activities now produces results. Parents who participate in ROR are more likely to read to their children and read more often, and as a result, children have shown improvement in language scores. In addition, ROR's effects appear to be greatest on impoverished children, those children at greatest risk of performing poorly in school, of dropping out, and repeating the cycle of illiteracy and poverty.
Why Nashville, Tennessee? Tennessee ranked 7th in the nation in percentage of adults who did not complete high school (13.4%) in recent statistics. It is estimated that over 28,000 adults in Davidson County aged 25 years or older did not finish the 9th grade (1990 data). Failure to read at grade level is one of the earliest and most potent predictors of students who drop out of school prematurely.
Why pediatricians? Many children, especially those in poverty, may not be exposed to books until kindergarten or Head Start. Researchers now know that reading and language skills begin long before school starts. Pediatricians are in a unique position to deliver this message, since the average child will visit the pediatrician's office several times before the age of 2 for well child visits and vaccinations. ROR capitalizes on this special opportunity to "immunize against illiteracy" as well.
For more information, please contact Gregory Plemmons at 615.936.2425. To become a volunteer reader, contact the Office of Volunteer Services at 615.322.2379. To make a financial contribution, please contact the Development Office of Children's Hospital at 615.322.7450.