The American Academy of Pediatrics' official stand on early literacy advocates reading aloud to children every day, beginning from birth. The policy, which was released in June 2014, urges pediatricians and policymakers to ensure that books are available to all families, particularly those with low income.
The group represents tens of thousands of doctors across the country, and it has asked that its members become powerful advocates for reading aloud, and to talk with parents about its benefits every time a baby has an office visit.
The AAP also has long-standing policies that recommend breastfeeding and immunizations. Instituting a literacy policy shows an increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within a child's first three years of life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills.
The AAP recommends restricting screen time for kids younger than 2 in favor of interactive play, and reading books can certainly be a part of that. Speaking to the Huffington Post, Pamela High, M.D., the lead author on the AAP early literacy policy, recommends that parents focus on the 5 Rs of early education: read together, rhyme and play with words, set consistent routines, reward with praise, and develop a strong relationship.
Being exposed to books at a young age will also foster early education, help kids prepare for school later in life, and possibly reduce the educational gap between low- and high-income families. There are also several amazing benefits of reading out loud to babies -- it strengthens bonding, increases language skills, improves vocabulary, boosts brain activity, and fine-tunes social and emotional recognition -- all important things for baby's development. So grab some board books and start shaping a little bookworm today!
Image: Mother and child reading a book via Shutterstock