A recent release from the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it would ask all pediatricians to recommend that parents read aloud to their children on a daily basis. Obviously this promotes literacy, but it also helps the child develop social/emotional skills.
Not only is reading to your child an enjoyable experience, it strengthens the parent/child relationship. For this reason alone, pediatricians will now be encouraging parents to read to their children at all their regular checkups.
This seems to be an obvious part of rearing a child, that time-honored tradition of reading bedtime stories. But statistics show that fewer than 50% of all children are read to on a regular basis. More than 30% of children entering kindergarten without the necessary language skills they need to learn how to read.
The lack of daily reading crosses the line between low-income families and high-income families. While children of low income families are less likely to be read to, the surprise was that children of high-income families enter school almost equally unprepared.
Time is the most common excuse given for not reading to children. Of all resources available to us today, time seems to be the most limited. And yet, the importance of developing a child’s literacy abilities from an early age suggests that we make time for our children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics plans to include the literacy program be included in the training of new pediatricians in pediatric residency programs. And there is a call to include high quality reading material, making them available during routine care visits.
According to Dr. Pamela High, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, parents need to hit the “5 Rs” as part of their young children’s routine:
1. Reading regularly to young children.
2. Rhyming, singing and cuddling.
3. Routines and regular times for meals and sleep.
4. Rewarding children for their efforts to promote self-esteem.
5. Relationship development.
Reading to your child should be a fun and enjoyable experience for you both. Choose books that you both enjoy. Laugh together at the funny rhymes and pictures. Encourage your child to repeat key words and phrases that recur throughout the book. Even ten minutes a day will make a difference in your child’s future.