By Nikki Shearman
Communications Manager, Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read is pleased to announce the launch of our Prescription for Success Toolkit, designed to support collaborations between libraries, museums, and Reach Out and Read program sites, natural partners that have a collective impact on the lives of young children.
In January 2015, we embarked on a yearlong project, Prescription for Success, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project is aimed at helping more families benefit from museum and library services that foster literacy development in young children. As a national nonprofit organization comprised of doctors, who promote early childhood literacy, Reach Out and Read has deep and broad relationships within the medical community. Prescription for Success has leveraged these connections to explore new ways doctors and their staffs can collaborate with museums and libraries.
Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives books to children at pediatric checkups, and encourages families to read aloud to their infants and toddlers. For many of the low-income families that we serve, this is the first book in the home. Encouraging families to make use of local libraries and museums extends the impact of our program, giving them opportunities to read more books together, and to spend time enjoying library and museum activities. And library and museum staff can reinforce our message that engaging with young children through reading and playing together helps foster healthy brain development that gives them the best start in life.
Conversely, Reach Out and Read can further the special role that museums and libraries have in meeting the needs of America’s youngest learners and their caregivers. With unparalleled access to young children through pediatric checkups, we are able to open the door to libraries and museums for many families, especially those struggling on a low-income, who might otherwise not know the value of these institutions.
The Prescription for Success Toolkit is a compilation of best practices learned from a survey of current state and local partnerships between Reach Out and Read, libraries, and museums. It provides ideas and resources for those who currently, or would like to, work together.
The toolkit encourages local libraries, museums, and Reach Out and Read program sites to open conversations with one another to explore common interests and learn about one another to build trust and community. It suggests ways they can support one another, such as clinics prescribing visits to the library using a prescription pad, libraries distributing Reach Out and Read materials or helping to create literacy-rich waiting rooms at Reach Out and Read clinics. Links to materials and resources and examples of successful established partnerships help with collaborations.
We intend that this will be updated with more information and ideas as more libraries, museums and Reach Out and Read program sites set up mutually beneficial relationships, and look forward to this being a much-visited resource. Please take a look!