MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Gov. Kay Ivey held a press conference on Thursday to announce a new partnership to improve literacy and reading proficiency across Alabama.

Last year, Ivey launched the Alabama Campaign for Grade-Level Reading initiative to support students in achieving reading proficiency by the third grade. Ivey also announced a new partnership to improve literacy among Alabama students during the Thursday press conference. 

Ivey was joined by Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Secretary Barbara Cooper, Alabama Medicaid Agency Commissioner Stephanie Azar, and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

“Since my call to action to launch the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading one year ago, we have made great progress. Under the Reach Out and Read program, the pilot counties have developed and began implementing comprehensive literacy strategies from which the rest of the state can learn,” Gov. Ivey said.

Reach Out and Read integrates reading aloud into pediatric care, providing books and coaching that help families make reading a part of their daily routine. Clinicians may introduce this important evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and providing the developmentally appropriate books for every child during well-child visits.

Reach Out and Read-Alabama is a program of the Alabama Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics. Reach Out and Read has provided more than 1.6 million new books to vulnerable children in Alabama through over 300 prescribing medical providers in 53 practices and clinics.

“Alabamians should be proud that state agencies are working together to improve literacy by exposing children to books early on through the Reach Out and Read program, as well as improving their health and well-being.”

The Reach Out and Read program begins at birth and continues through age four, with a special emphasis on children growing up in communities where families earn lower incomes. Families served by the program will read together more often, and their children will enter school with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.

Also on Thursday, Gov. Ivey announced she has raised $1.2 million for her re-election campaign.

The full announcement can be watch in the video player above