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Jo's Reach Out and Read


Many children, especially those in poverty, may not be exposed to books until Kindergarten or Head Start. Researchers know that reading and language skills begin long before school starts. Pediatricians are in a unique position to deliver this message, because the average child will visit a pediatrician’s office several times before the age of two for well child visits and vaccinations.

Reach Out and Read promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms. This nationwide program gives new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.

Vanderbilt pediatrician Rebecca Swan and her husband Michael, a Nashville obstetrician, founded Jo’s Reach Out and Read in 2000. It is a local chapter of this national effort, in 2000 in memory of their daughter, Johanna.

Reach Out and Read builds on the relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, ages six months to five years. Jo’s Reach Out and Read serves more than 4000 children and their families annually. This program works! Families read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten better prepared to succeed, with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills.

Give to Jo's Reach Out and Read

Make your tax-deductible online gift today.

Program goals

  • Provide age-appropriate books free of charge to children at well child visits
  • Encourage parents to read to their children daily
  • Model good reading habits by providing volunteer readers in waiting rooms

How to help

Beautiful new books cost money, and we serve thousands of children through our small annual book budget. Consider making a tax-deductible contribution today. Give to Jo's Reach Out and Read online, or learn more by emailing Adelaide Vienneau.


Sometimes we need volunteer readers in waiting rooms at our Children's Hospital clinics. These volunteers model interactive reading techniques as they read to children waiting for their checkup. Contact us to learn more about volunteering.

The Junior League Family Resource Center
Children's Hospital, Second Floor
2200 Children's Way, Suite 2125
Nashville, TN 37232-9200

Phone: (615) 936-2558
Toll free: (800) 288-0391