Read To Me Program

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Thousands of Books

Each year Read to Me provides more than 10,000 new children’s books to children in our primary care clinics, our Child Protection Program, and our Children’s Neurodevelopment Center.

Reading is the cornerstone of learning. Recent research, however, shows that young people are not reading well enough to prepare them for future academic success. Reading failure disproportionately affects children from socially and economically disadvantaged families and contributes to continuing the cycle of poverty.

Since 1993, a group of pediatricians, educators and interested volunteers at Hasbro Children’s Hospital has been working together to address this problem. The result is the Read to Me program, an extensive volunteer effort to promote literacy for children who are cared for at our hospital.

Reading Essential to Early Development

Research has shown that families who participate in these types of programs read more with their young children, benefiting both children and caregivers. For children, it is one of the most effective ways to develop language and literacy skills during a critical period of early brain development and to develop the early literacy skills required for school readiness. Studies indicate that reading proficiency by the third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success.

For parents and caregivers, reading with young children is a nurturing experience that improves the parent-child relationship, while also improving the child’s social and emotional development. Parents who read with their children also develop a more positive attitude toward books and reading.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends providing books to children as an essential aspect of well child care. The AAP offers a toolkit to help families explore reading. For additional information about early literacy, as well as stories, games, and tips for exploring reading and literacy, visit the AAP’s Family Resource site.

Primary Goals of the Read To Me Program

  1. to spark children’s interest in reading
  2. to increase parents’ awareness of the importance of reading aloud to their children
  3. to provide an opportunity for pediatricians to stress the importance of reading for the overall health and well-being of children

Program Funding

Children who benefitted from the Read to Me program had larger vocabularies by the age of 15- to 24-months than children who did not receive this support

The Read to Me program is continually faced with the challenge of funding, and has been fortunate to be supported by several organizations, as well as by members of our community:

  • Since 1993, the program has been annually awarded a federal grant through Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). RIF originally funded school-based programs, but has chosen to expand its resources into other settings. RIF has chosen the Read to Me program at Hasbro Children’s Hospital as a model program for literacy promotion in a health care environment. A grant from RIF provides funding for the purchase of new books for children to take home from pediatric clinic visits. RIF funding requires the hospital to raise matching funds.
  • Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national organization that provides technical support and training for clinic-based literacy promotion programs, such as the Read to Me program. Over the past three years, ROR has also supported our program with grants to provide new books for our youngest patients.
  • Members of our community have also embraced the Read to Me program, and have donated both time and money. Donations have increased steadily over the years as awareness of the program has increased. Local schools have raised funds to purchase new books; community organizations have conducted book drives and book fairs; and local businesses have provided both monetary support and volunteers for reading.

Opportunities to Help

There are many ways that individuals and organizations can support the work of the Read to Me program at Hasbro Children’s Hospital:

Please note that volunteers at Hasbro Children’s Hospital who have contact with our patients must be at least 18 years old or a senior in high school. An orientation session and other commitments are required.

Additional Resources

For other ways to help, connect with Reach Out and Read Rhode Island; Ready to Learn Providence; or Providence Community Library’s Volunteer Match.