PNS Daily Newscast - September 24 

Update: A second accuser emerges with misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavenaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: We take you to a state where more than 60,000 kids are chronically absent from school; and we'll let you know why the rural digital divide can be a two-fold problem.

Daily Newscasts

Reading Their Way to Success: Program Gives Books to NC Children

September 30, 2011

SYLVA, N.C. - In North Carolina, a check on your children's health can also provide them with food for thought - in the form of a new book.

Starting this year, the Reach Out and Read program has provided books to children in need by asking pediatricians to distribute them. The program's regional director, Callee Boulware, says it helps children develop early reading and critical-thinking skills, with the goal of children entering school with a larger vocabulary and stronger language skills.

"Books are expensive, and if it's going to be books or groceries, clearly it's going to be groceries. So, what we find is that an enormous number of children living in poverty really have no books in their home."

Reach Out and Read recently received a significant grant that will enable the program to add 20,000 children. It's also expanding into western North Carolina, thanks to an additional grant from the Sisters of Mercy Foundation.

Books are distributed to children from 6 months through age 5, during well-check visits to participating pediatricians. Doctors incorporate the books into the exam by observing child behavior and explaining to parents the importance of reading.

Reach Out and Read goes beyond reading, Boulware says, because it increases the amount of interaction between parents and children.

"A lot of young children don't get that talking face-to-face time like they need to get, and books are the perfect way to ease parents into that habit of sharing language with their child."

Research from the program has found that when families participate in Reach Out and Read, parents are four times more likely to read to their children, and that children score higher on vocabulary tests and school readiness assessments. Nationwide, 3.9 million children are served by Reach Out and Read.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC