Pediatricians recognize the importance of literacy at a young age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics
issued a recent policy statement recommending that parents should read to their children every day, starting at a young age. It also pushes for the easy accessibility of books for families. The policy statement suggests that reading out loud and exposing youngsters to an assortment of words is crucial for their development. In particular, it is especially important for kids of a low socio-economic income.

“Kids who experience a lot of literacy at a young age — typically most people say under 3 — if you read to them a lot, if you use a lot of language with them, when they’re 7 or 8 or 9 years old, there’s a dramatic difference in their ability to use language, their reading skills are higher, their academic skills are higher,” said pediatrician Dr. James Scibilia.

Literacy at such a young age is important because in order for students in grade school to excel in other subject areas, they must be proficient readers. Those who struggle to read cannot successfully develop their talents in other subjects.

Initiatives such as P16Plus’s STEM Project Pipeline aim to spark an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into youth at a young age. If a student does not meet the literacy standard for his/her age, their opportunity to excel in these fields is delayed. If children are not exposed to these STEM subjects at a young age, then there is an increased chance that they will miss out on opportunities to gain education in these high-demand, career fields after high school.

Reading to kids at a young age not only gets them interested in books and readies them for school, but it also creates closer a bond with the parent and diversifies the child’s vocabulary as well. Using broader terminology will widen their scope of understanding.

Erica Keefer has been reading to her son since he was an infant. At just 14 months, he had already developed an interest in books. “He’ll look through them by himself and now he’ll bring them to me to read them to him” Keefer said.

This policy statement is a great indicator that more and more people recognize the importance of reading to young children. At your next visit, you can expect to hear more of an emphasis on reading from your child’s pediatrician.

• Click HERE to go to the Times Online website to find out more information about the policy statement

Photo Courtesy: Times Online

Submitted by Sean Walker, COSA Ambassador