The article “The Journey Toward Literacy Begins in Infancy: The Reach Out and Read Innovation” was written by Jean Ciborowski Fahey and Judith Forman and published in Childhood Education in 2012. It focuses on the operations of an organization called Reach Out and Read, the main goal of which is to facilitate early literacy and school readiness across the United States. It has been scientifically proven that the practices adopted by the Reach Out and Read program make a difference in the performance of children who use them, which is especially evident for low-income children.
The article intends to let parents of preschoolers know how critical it is to give sufficient attention to the act of reading to children aloud for their brain development. The authors believe that Reach Out and Read compares favorably with similar initiatives for several reasons. The substantiation of the necessity for the program is justified by the citation of particular facts and numbers.
First, when speaking about infants, reading aloud to them is essential since the spoken language’s rhythm and tone provide a soothing effect and makes them want to imitate the intonations heard. Secondly, there is proof that the so-called “learning gap” starts to widen from the earliest age, especially for kids from underprivileged families (Fahey and Forman, 2012, p. 218). The study shows that if there are no interventions, children from low-income families are more likely to fall behind than their higher-income peers. For example, when assessing reading levels, more than 80% of 4th-graders from undereducated families score “Below Proficient,” whereas about half of their counterparts from educated families do (Fahey and Forman, 2012, p. 218). In addition, the effectiveness of Reach Out and Read is further affirmed by several stories from the company employees’ working experience. These stories are illustrative of the enthusiasm that is exhibited by the participants of the program, who demonstrate a willingness to reach after a book more often and enjoy spending time reading more than before.
The evidence provided in the article is properly employed. The article’s main strength is the fact that the authors have consistently and convincingly argued that Reach Out and Read is superior to other programs of the same kind. There is a practical amount of sources credited, and they all seem to confirm the authors’ statements. One weakness that can be marked is the lack of illustrations or charts that could be indicative of some impressive numbers quoted, but otherwise, everything is well constructed.
When it comes to the point of interest, one of the facts stated in the article might seem quite surprising. Fahey and Forman (2012) cite the results of the study that points to the peculiar number – of 30 million. This is how many more words children from educated families are considered to have heard by the age of 3 as compared to their uneducated contemporaries (p.218). There are scholars who believe that the methodology used to gather this sample is of concern. For one, Walker and Carta (2020) cite the claim on how there is still a very high percentage of various minorities – racial, cultural, and ethnic – in underprivileged groups in the USA. It is no different from when the data on the figure specified above was captured, which has not been acknowledged. Moreover, Abraham (2020) cites evidence, refuting the figure in question altogether: it was found that there is not a word gap between children from families with different socioeconomic statuses. Which confirmed that when comparing the number of words uttered among people, a range of criteria is to be recognized – not only the social and economic situation.
In conclusion, the methods applied by Reach Out and Read have proved to and continue to be resourceful. Essentially, this program might be one of the keys to solving the cognitive disparities that can occur between children with the difference in wealth in their families. When a child’s development is intentionally paid attention to from the very beginning of birth, the results might be impressive.
Abraham, S. (2020). What counting words has really taught us: The word gap, a dangerous, but useful discourse. Equity & Excellence in Education, 53(1-2), 137-150. Web.
Fahey, J., & Forman, J. (2012). The journey toward literacy begins in infancy: The Reach Out and Read innovation. Childhood Education, 88(4), 217-220. Web.
Walker, D., & Carta, J. J. (2020). Intervention research to improve language-learning opportunities and address the inequities of the word gap. Web.