Reach Out and Read RI Partners with Papitto Opportunity Connection to Support Young Children’s Literacy and Healthy Development

PROVIDENCE, RI (February 23, 2022)– Reach Out and Read Rhode Island (RORRI) is grateful to have received a grant from the Papitto Opportunity Connection. Funding from this grant will support 11,500 children for one year in Reach Out and Read RI, helping to provide 28,000 new books to these children, as well as create new staffing positions and provide programmatic support to 25 partnering healthcare sites. Reach Out and Read Rhode Island partners with pediatric healthcare providers statewide to integrate reading guidance into pediatric care. At every well-visit starting at birth through age five, children are provided a new developmentally-appropriate and culturally-relevant book, and families are encouraged to read aloud together every day. Reading together promotes healthy brain development, strengthens social-emotional health, furthers language acquisition, and helps families build nurturing bonds.

“Exposing children to reading and books as young as possible is one of the central building blocks to the development of healthy, active minds,” said Barbara Papitto, founder, and trustee of the Papitto Opportunity Connection. “We know that children who read and who have been read to, have better outcomes in school, and POC is pleased to support Reach Out and Read Rhode Island and its efforts to set the reading table early in life.”

Partnership with the Papitto Opportunity Connection will give assurance to the medical community carrying out this critical workthat their youngest patients will be able to participate in RORRI without interruption. Pediatric medical providers recognize the urgency of providing new books to children, especially as families face greater hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. A Providence-based pediatrician stated, “Ten dollars on a book or ten dollars towards groceries? Families look forward to the free Reach Out and Read books at visits.” During the intersecting public health crises of COVID-19 and systemic racism, RORRI’s pediatric partners’ ability to reach and support young children and their families is critical.

As Reach Out and Read RI actively assesses how to better meet the needs of children and their families, the organization researches and purchases a more deeply-curated assortment of books. These titles include social-emotional health books; diversity, equity, and inclusion themes; and books about disabilities including autism. Additionally, RORRI provides bilingual Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, Chinese, and Hmong books to partnering healthcare sites that serve families who speak these languages.

Established in 1999 with five participating sites, RORRI now partners with 60 hospitals, clinics, and community health centers statewide where 358 pediatric medical providers reached more than 35,000 children and provided 68,000 new books at no cost to Rhode Island families during the last year. Partnership with foundations like the Papitto Opportunity Connection, and many local corporations and donors, has enabled Reach Out and Read RI to provide more than one million new, developmentally-appropriate and culturally-relevant books to children and their families throughout the state since their founding.