About Reach Out and Read Iowa

Reach Out and Read Iowa is part of a nationwide program that prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups, by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally-appropriate books to children. The program begins at the 6-month checkup and continues through age 5, with a special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities. Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.

The Reach Out and Read Model:
  1. In the exam room, doctors and nurses trained in early literacy encourage parents to read aloud to their children, and offer age-appropriate tips.
  2. The pediatric primary care provider gives every child between 6 months and 5 years of age a new, developmentally appropriate children's book.
  3. Displays, information, and gently-used books create a literacy-rich environment in the waiting room. Where possible, volunteers read aloud.


Reach Out and Read Iowa is an integral part of the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Since Reach Out and Read Iowa's inception in early 2006, Reach Out and Read Iowa has grown significantly. Initially comprised of 17 programs in the state, the coalition has expanded to 92 Reach Out and Read programs and serves more than 58,000 children as of May 19, 2014.

Reach Out and Read Iowa targets children ages 6 months through 5 years growing up in poverty who are most at risk for reading difficulties and school failure. Reach Out and Read Iowa recruits and supports all prospective ROR programs and providers, especially clinics serving Iowa and children with risk factors for school failure such as low income status, public or no health insurance, being of minority race or ethnicity, or not having English as a primary language.

Reach Out and Read Iowa's primary role is to serve children in poverty who are most at risk for reading and school difficulties through program recruitment, training and technical assistance, quality assurance, raising awareness, advocating, and funding a significant proportion of the programs' annual book costs.

We are dedicated to promoting literacy as a standard part of children's health care, with the goal of helping all children grow up with books and a love for reading. Reach Out and Read trains medical providers to integrate literacy into well-child visits by giving new age- and culturally-appropriate books to children between the ages of 6 months through 5 years, and counseling parents about the importance of sharing books together and reading aloud. Fostering emerging literacy skills helps children enter school with a love for reading and ready to learn.