Pediatricians will always encourage parents to read to their children. During the first three years of life, the brain undergoes many important changes. Studies have found that reading together will foster healthy brain development, strengthen parent-child bonds and relationships as well as being one of the best ways for children to learn language and develop early literacy skills.
These children usually will have a greater interest in reading as well as better language skills and, as they get older, will help them tremendously when they start school.
Children need that important daily face time as they engage in conversations and develop relationships with their parents. Parents and children, through back-and-forth banter, promote in- depth analysis of the storyline and help children learn to express themselves more proficiently. Added benefits include fostering imagination, language, brain development and critical thinking.
The earlier you start reading to a child, the more likely they are to enjoy reading and the language proficient and verbal more they will be at an earlier age. Books should always be age appropriate, a fun experience for the child and a part of a daily routine. Added benefit: reading cuts down on-screen time which requires very little use of language or interaction.
Books should always be made available to children. There are many nonprofit organizations which your local library and/or pediatric office which may provide free age-appropriate books for children. Reach Out and Read (a program with which we are associated at Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Centers) is one such program. Beginning in infancy until about age 5 or 6, children are given books as part of their well visits and parents are encouraged to interact with the child using the books at the visits. Pediatric providers will often model the behavior as part of the visit with the child and in the process, get many clues about the child’s language and milestone developments based on how they interact and react to the book. Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is another such nonprofit often found in libraries, that also helps foster and encourage of love for reading and literacy in school aged children.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s language development, always feel free to bring them up with your child’s healthcare provider who is trained to deal with whatever issues your child may be having and to provide the appropriate referrals when necessary. Also ask about programs such as Reach Out and Read or RIF which can provide your child with free books.
Luis Velasquez MD FAAP
Director of Pediatrics
Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center