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Letter to Senators Kennedy and Enzi supporting the Prescribe a Book Act (S. 1895)

October 19, 2007

Dear Senators Kennedy and Enzi:


On behalf of NEA's 3.2 million members, we write in support of the Prescribe a Book Act (S. 1895), which was recently introduced by Senators Reed and Grassley. We support this bill's efforts to promote a foundation for reading and early literacy skills for young children.

S. 1895 would provide grants to organizations working with pediatricians to support parents in reading aloud as a routine part of child care. This program promotes literacy by training participating doctors in how to give parents information about reading aloud to children at different ages. As part of the program, doctors also give their young patients a culturally- and age-appropriate book to take home so that parents can read aloud to them.

Research on the benefits of early education interventions is clear. The National Reading Panel found that reading to children is an important part of preparing them to learn to read. Children are born with the ability to learn, but this ability must be nurtured. Programs like those that would be supported by S. 1895, such as the "Reach Out and Read" program, train parents who may not have knowledge of early childhood development or how to build preliteracy knowledge in their babies and young children. They also help children develop an understanding of and appreciation for books from both listening to books being read and building their own library of books.

We urge your support for this cost-effective, research-based, and practical program.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy