Reading is a Great Equalizer

A couple of years ago, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill making it the official policy of the state that every student should read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. The logic makes sense—if you can’t read by the end of third grade, you’re more likely to need remedial education; you’re less likely to graduate, and you’re less likely to get a job after graduation. Needless to say, the fewer children who read by the end of third grade, the less likely we are as a state to be first in future. To help address this concern, there are various national, statewide, regional and local groups, plus a grassroots effort called Reach Out and Read Carolinas. Reach Out and Read Carolinas gets to more than 300,000 kids each year in an unexpected place: the doctor’s office (or a clinic, or a hospital). Think about it—more than 90 percent of children visit the doctor every year, and when they get there, they see someone they trust. At each of the 400 Reach Out and Read sites in North and South Carolina, the medical professional hands the child the book and then engages them – and their parents – in a conversation about reading. This week, we talk with Callee Boulware, executive director of Reach Out and Read Carolinas, about why the program seems to make a difference in helping meet that objective.

Book recommendations:

  • Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv
  • Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Stellaluna, Janell Cannon (a children’s book all adults should read)
North Carolinian to Watch:

Dr. Anna Miller-Fitzwater
A provider at Wake Forest, for her deep and genuine commitment to children.


(Reading) is the great equalizer…We’re not getting children to school ahead, necessarily, what we’re doing is not getting them there behind. We’re basically using Reach Out and Read as a preventative measure.

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Let your child interrupt. Interruptions show your child is engaged.