Parents have long been told about the benefits of reading to young minds but the importance of reading is more highlighted now that the country's largest pediatrician group urges parents to read aloud to their kids early in life.
In a new policy issued on June 23, the American Academy of Pediatrics tells pediatricians to urge parents to read aloud to their children daily starting from their infancy, as doing so can help with the children's development as well as enhance their socio-emotional and literacy skills.
The group, which is composed of 62,000 pediatricians nationwide, is asking members to advocate for reading aloud and inform parents of the benefits of reading to children. The AAP has also issued recommendations on how long mothers should breastfeed their babies and to keep young kids from screen until they are at least two years old in the past. The new recommendation is the first that focuses on early literacy education.
"Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime," the AAP wrote in its policy statement.
The new policy recommends parents to adopt reading as a daily family activity. The pediatrician group hopes that by urging parents to read to their children early and often, it will be possible to reduce the academic disparity that exists between children from more affluent and poorer families.
Research suggests that many parents do not read enough to their children so as to positively affect their pre-literacy skills that can help them do well in school. Many highly educated parents may start reading to their children before they are even born but many children particularly those from low-income families are not exposed to reading and there are those who do not even have books in their homes.
A 2011 to 2012 survey on children's health shows that only 34 percent of 5-year old children from families at or below the poverty threshold were read to everyday. Meanwhile, 60 percent of children from families with incomes that were 400 percent of the poverty threshold were read to everyday.
To promote reading, the AAP is teaming up with Scholastics Inc., a publisher of children's books, Clinton Foundation's Too Small to Fail and Reach out and Read, a not for profit organization that works with health service professionals and hospitals to distribute books and promote early reading.