Sharing books with preschoolers is known to improve kindergarten readiness. Both Reach Out and Read (ROR) and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) have shown positive effects on book sharing at home. We developed a novel combined ROR/DPIL program and examined the effect on kindergarten readiness assessment (KRA) scores.
At urban ROR primary care sites, patients <5 years living in the city school district were enrolled from July 2015 through January 2019 in the ROR/DPIL program when seen for a clinic visit. The literacy subtest of the KRA was examined for participants entering kindergarten in the fall of 2016, 2017, and 2018. The “on-track” rate of participants was compared with nonparticipant groups.
A total of 797 kindergarten-aged ROR/DPIL participants were matched to Ohio KRA scores for 2016, 2017, and 2018 school years. The percentages of students “on-track” on KRA literacy subtests increased significantly by cohort (2016, 42.9% [95% confidence interval (CI): 34.9%–50.9%] versus 2017, 50.9% [95% CI: 44.9%–56.9%] versus 2018, 58.3% [95% CI: 53.3%–63.3%], P = .004). ROR/DPIL participants were compared with a proportionate stratified random sample of 1580 non-ROR/DPIL peers. On-track in literacy did not significantly differ between groups (2016 [P = .262], 2017 [P = .653], 2018 [P = .656]), nor did they differ after restricting analysis to economically disadvantaged children (2016 [P = .191], 2017 [P = .721], 2018 [P = .191]).
With these results, we suggest that a program combining literacy anticipatory guidance at clinic visits and more books in the home can potentially improve kindergarten readiness. Pediatric health care providers can play an important role in promoting kindergarten readiness through literacy promotion.