AAP: Read to kids from birth

July 3, 2014

In its first policy statement on literacy, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises pediatricians to encourage parents to read to their children beginning in infancy and continuing until at least entry into kindergarten.

 

In its first policy statement on literacy promotion, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises pediatricians to encourage parents to read to their children beginning in infancy and continuing until at least entry into kindergarten.

The recommendations call for pediatricians to promote literacy at health supervision visits throughout infancy and early childhood until at least children start school by explaining to parents the benefits of reading aloud with their children and advising them about enjoyable, developmentally appropriate reading activities.

All high-risk, low-income children should receive developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate books at health supervision visits. Pediatric providers will need to find ways to distribute such books without placing financial strain on their practices, such as supporting state or federal funding, the statement acknowledges.

To support literacy education, the AAP recommends strategies such as wall posters; distributing materials that are understandable to parents with limited literacy skills; providing information about local library locations and services; promoting the “5 Rs” of early education (reading, rhyming, routines, rewards, relationships); and partnering with child advocates to promote national literacy policies. Pediatric resident training should include literacy promotion, and more research should be done on best practices.

The policy statement originated in growing realization of the significance of brain development in the first 3 years of life and the benefits of reading with young children, which include stimulating brain development and strengthening parent-child relationships at a pivotal time.

Early reading experiences foster long-lasting language, literacy, and social-emotional skills, which many children sorely lack. More than a third of American children enter kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read. 


 

 

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