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John R.
Democrat RI

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  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Jack Reed

    Posted on 2015-01-26

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    REED (for himself, Mr. Grassley, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Markey, and Ms. Warren): S. 251. A bill to aid and support pediatric involvement in reading and education; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

    Mr. REED. Mr. President, today I introduce with my colleague, Senator Grassley, the Prescribe a Book Act I thank Senators Markey, Stabenow, and Warren for joining us as original cosponsors of this bipartisan bill.

    Literacy skills are the foundation for success in school and in life. Developing and building these skills begins at home, with parents as the first teachers. Children who are read to frequently at home are more likely to become frequent readers themselves in later years. Indeed, according to Scholastic's Kids and Families Reading Report, among children ages 6-11, 60 percent of frequent readers, those who read 57 days per week for fun, were read to aloud by a parent 5-7 times per week before they entered kindergarten. This highlights the important role that parents play in building their children's literacy skills.

    To help support the parental role in literacy, the Prescribe a Book Act would create a federal pediatric early literacy grant initiative based on the long-standing, successful Reach Out and Read program. The program would award grants on a competitive basis to high-quality nonprofit entities to train doctors and nurses to discuss with parents the importance of reading aloud to their children and to give books to children at pediatric check-ups from 6 months to 5 years of age, with a priority for children from low-income families. It builds on the relationship between parents and medical providers and helps families and communities encourage early literacy skills so children enter school prepared for success in reading.

    I was pleased to see last year that the American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, recognized the important role that pediatric providers play in enhancing children's literacy skills In a policy statement, AAP recommended that pediatric providers promote early literacy development for children from birth to at least kindergarten entry, including by counseling parents on the importance of reading to their children and through providing age-appropriate books to high-risk, low-income young children.

    Evidence shows that that the pediatric literacy model works. Research published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals has found that parents who have participated in the Reach out and Read program are significantly more likely to read to their children and include more children's books in their home, and that children served by the program show an increase of 4-8 points on vocabulary tests. I have seen up close the positive impact of this program on children and their families when visiting a number of Rhode Island's Reach Out and Read sites. Building on existing efforts, which in the past have been supported by Federal funding included in the appropriations process and distributed by the Department of Education, and matched by tens of millions of dollars from the private sector and State governments, the Prescribe a Book Act would establish a formal authorization modeled on this type of successful public-private partnership. By so doing, it would leverage Federal dollars to expand pediatric literacy initiatives so that more young children reap the developmental benefits of having books at home and being read to by their parents.

    I urge our colleagues to join us in cosponsoring the Prescribe a Book Act, and to work to include its provisions in the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

    ______ By Mr. CORNYN: S. 252. A bill to prohibit the consideration of any bill by Congress unless a statement on tax transparency is provided in the bill; to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

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