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Early Childhood Literacy: Raising Readers

Raising Readers promotes early childhood literacy and a love of reading in Maine by giving books to children at birth and at well-child visits through age five. It is the largest health and literacy program in a single state.

What is Raising Readers?

Established in 2000, Raising Readers is a one-of-a-kind, statewide early literacy program that gives books--free of charge--to all children up to five years old who are born in Maine and receive well-child care within Maine’s healthcare system. Through the simple act of giving children books, Raising Readers stresses the powerful message that literacy begins well before children enter kindergarten and supports the well-documented link between health and literacy. The program’s longtime mission aligns with the 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement: Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice.

How does Raising Readers work?

Raising Readers gives all children throughout Maine’s healthcare system at least 12 beautiful books.

  • The first books are shipped directly to hospitals and every parent takes home a set of books.
  • At each well-child doctor's visit through age five, parents get another specially chosen book to add to their child’s library.

Healthcare providers coach parents and caregivers on: 

  • The importance of reading out loud starting at birth
  • How reading out loud to children promotes healthy brain development and the early literacy skills needed for future school success 

There is no cost to healthcare providers or parents. Parents do not need to signup to be part of this program. 100% of Maine-based medical providers who see children for well-child care and 100% of Maine hospitals and birth centers participate in the program.

Raising Readers is a statewide program funded by the Libra Foundation, led and administered by MaineHealth, in collaboration with Northern Light Health, and support from The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

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