The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued its first-ever literacy promotion policy statement on Tuesday. Its main message? Read aloud to your children.
“Reading with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships and stimulate early language development,” Dr. Pamela High, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, told The Huffington Post.
Despite the many benefits of reading aloud—critical to brain development, literacy skills, and social-emotional skills—both high and low income families are falling short according to the 2011 to 2012 National Survey of Children’s Health. It states only 34 percent of children 5 and under are being read to daily in low-income families. That percentage doubles for high-income families (60 percent) but that’s still low.
“All families face issues of limited time, limited parental understanding of the key role of reading aloud and competition for the child’s interest and attention from other sources of entertainment, such as electronic media,” the authors write.
High also encourages parents to remember the “5 Rs” of early education: reading with their children daily as part of a set routine; rhyming, singing and cuddling with them throughout the day; establishing routines and regular times for meals and sleep; rewarding them for their efforts and successes to boost self-esteem; and developing relationships that are reciprocal and nurturing.
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