For years we have heard it’s important to read to your child, even when he or she’s a baby. However, many parents still haven’t realized why reading can help in their kid’s development and doctors want to change that.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a policy statement entitled Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice, recommending that pediatricians encourage parents to read to their children. I’m delighted that pediatricians will talk about the importance of literacy and reading to children at well-visits. Our pediatrician’s office has books in the waiting room and in the doctor’s rooms, so we read when we are waiting to be seen.
Monica Olivera, one of the founders of Latinas for Latino Lit, is just as happy as I am. “To have more people promoting the act of reading aloud to young children is certainly a positive thing, and to have doctors encouraging parents to do so adds an authoritative voice to the issue,” said Monica.
She wonders, however, how many families will benefit from the recommendation, especially in low-income communities. How many children are regularly taken to the doctor for well-visits and routine care?
Studies show that children from higher-income families hear significantly more words by age three, so reaching low-income communities is especially important.
These are the communities where literacy promotion is critically important as studies show that low-income children have a considerable “word gap” when compared to children from higher income families.
I think it is great that early literacy is being promoted and encouraged in pediatricians’ offices. I also think we need to create a culture where reading and literacy are considered important and cool, just as cool as playing sports. Reading to a child at an early age can help do that.
10 Reasons Why You Should Read To Your Children
Here are 10 reasons why reading to your children at an early age is worth it:
1. Reading develops the imagination: A book is just a starting point. It is also a great way to develop your child’s own stories, by taking the characters and imagining different scenarios.
2. It’s a great way to bond: Reading can be a very special moment of the day with our little one. Your child can get excited about exploring different adventures with you through books.
3. It encourages critical thinking: Books are great ways to get your child to think beyond the story. You can ask your child, “Why do you think the bear is sad?” or “What do you think is going to happen next?”
4. It builds vocabulary: Even if your child is not talking, your child is listening to you and absorbing everything he hears! Repeat colors, shapes, letters, and describe everything. He can look at the pictures in the books, and one day, you will be surprised when he repeats the words he has been listening to.
5. Develops listening skills: When you are reading to your child, your child stops everything else and listens to you.
6. Great part of the bedtime routine: Enzo and I have special reading time as part of his bedtime routine. It is wonderful to see how much his comprehension skills evolve over time. Now, he has practically memorized the books, so it’s fun to hear him “read” to me.
7. It fosters a love of reading: Children that are read to at an early age are more likely to develop a love of reading, so it won’t seem like a chore in school!
8. Better language skills: According to the AAP, research shows that children who are read to during infancy and preschool years are more likely to have better language skills when they start school.
9. Books are great tools to discuss important topics: Whether you want to talk about potty training, a pet dying, or the importance of eating vegetables, books are a great way to handle important or sensitive topics.
10. Reading can transport you to different times and places: Adventures galore!
Let’s chat: do you read to your children? What do you love about it? What is your child’s favorite book?