NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent study found that having books in the home and parents as reading role-models have a positive impact on children's reading frequency.* To encourage all families to read to and with their children and to help more low-income families build home libraries, Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company, announced today its donation of one million books to Reach Out and Read, the nonprofit organization that helps implement early-childhood literacy awareness during a child's regular medical office visits. Scholastic is a long-time supporter of Reach Out and Read, and this donation will help the organization distribute more free books provided by pediatric professionals and hospitals to low-income families while educating them about the importance of reading aloud to foster children's early literacy development.
"We believe that literacy is the birthright of every child and the pathway to success in school, and it starts by creating a home library from which children can access and choose books that will set them up for a lifetime of independent reading," said Richard Robinson, Chairman and CEO of Scholastic. "Scholastic has been a longtime supporter of the work Reach Out and Read does to promote early-childhood literacy, and their proven model continues to successfully prescribe reading for all children and their families during their visit to the doctor."The Scholastic million book donation comes just a day after Reach Out and Read was recognized by the Library of Congress as the recipient of the prestigious David M. Rubenstein Prize, which honors organizations with a record of advancing literacy worldwide. The $150,000 award celebrates Reach and Out and Read's unique approach to improving literacy by providing books to at-risk children via doctors and nurses at nearly 5,000 Reach Out and Read clinics nationwide. "We know that books build better brains – and a million young brains will be shaped for the future through this incredible donation from Scholastic," said Reach Out and Read Executive Director Anne-Marie Fitzgerald. "Scholastic is our oldest and most generous partner, and without their continued commitment, we would not be able to help children grow up to become readers and support parents as their children's first and most important teachers. As Reach Out and Read is poised to begin its 25 th year, these books, along with the award from the Library of Congress, will be instrumental in creating a new generation of readers. On behalf of our 12,000 pediatricians and the millions of children we serve nationwide, I thank Scholastic for this tremendous gift." Despite the current distribution of more than 6.5 million books a year that reach more than one-third of all children living in poverty in the U.S., Reach Out and Read is seeing a growing need for more books to be distributed in more communities. Scholastic's one million book donation, including a large quantity of bilingual Spanish/English books, will be among the first books these children own in their home libraries. Reach Out and Read continues to train pediatric providers and the low-income families they serve with the necessary tools to make reading aloud a daily activity, as the organization's research shows reading aloud to children not only shapes a child's vocabulary, literacy and testing skills, but children score three to six months ahead of non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary testing. Exposure to books during the first five years of life, along with parents who are engaged in a child's learning, greatly increases a child's readiness to read, learn, and succeed in kindergarten and beyond.