The Achievement Gap Starts Early – Vibrant Health Family Clinics Help Bridge the Gap

Nearly a third of young children in the U.S. arrive to kindergarten without the skills they need for success at school. Because reading can help bridge that gap, the Healthcare Providers, led by Pediatrician, Amber Morgan, MD, are incorporating the Reach Out and Read program at Vibrant Health Family Clinics.

Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. Reading aloud is the single most important researched activity leading to language development and promotes early literacy skills, such as: word sound awareness; book handling and naming; understanding how stories work; recognition of sounds and letters; knowledge of a wide range of vocabulary; and the ability to listen.

More than 95 percent of a child’s brain is formed during the first 6 years of life, and a child’s experiences irreversibly affect how the brain develops. Honing in on key developmental skills early is very important.  The Reach Out and Read model has three key elements the Vibrant Health Care Providers follow:

  1. Primary Care Providers are trained to deliver early literacy guidance to parents of children 6 months through 5 years of age during each well-child visit.
  2. At each visit, we give the child a new, developmentally-appropriate book to take home, building a collection of books at home before the child goes to kindergarten.
  3. We also prescribe reading aloud, every day.

Vibrant Health has integrated Reach out and Read because family doctors and nurse practitioners have the greatest access to families with children in the early years – more than 91 percent of children under the age of six attend routine pediatric visits at least once a year.

Vibrant Health is passionate about this program because it benefits our local community and patients; brings free books to children who otherwise may not have any; and, we help to improve all aspects of a child’s life, not just those within the realm of physical care.

Dr. Amber Morgan is proud to spearhead this program at Vibrant Health because research through the Reach out and Read program suggests that: parents are two and one half times more likely to read to their children; families are two and one half times more likely to enjoy reading together or have books in the home; and children’s pre-school language development is improved by 3-6 months.

“Improved reading skills equates to improved school performance, which equates to happier and healthier families and community,” said Dr. Amber Morgan.


The Reach out and Read program began in 1989 with one program at Boston City Hospital and distributed 1000 books. In 1999, 795 programs exist in 49 States and the District of Columbia and distribute 1,027,798 books. In 2001, programs exist in all 50 states, with almost 1,500 sites distributing 1.6 million books per year. Today, more than 5,800 program sites exist and distribute 6.9 million books per year to families.