Parents often receive books at pediatric checkups via programs like Reach Out and Read and hear from a variety of health professionals and educators that reading to their kids is critical for supporting development. A summary report by Child Trends, for instance, suggests 55 percent of three- to five-year-old children were read to every day in According to the U. Department of Education, 83 percent of three- to five-year-old children were read to three or more times per week by a family member in Are all books created equal when it comes to early shared-book reading? Does it matter what you pick to read?
Study after study has shown that the number of words babies hear in their earliest years impacts literacy, vocabulary, and reading comprehension for years to come. The consequences can be devastating for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds, whose parents are far less likely to engage them verbally; according to one recent government study, only about one-third of children living below the poverty line are read to every day, compared to 60 percent of kids whose parents earn four times the poverty threshold. In a famous study in the s, psychologists found that, by the age of three, children born into the poorest families had heard about 30 million words fewer than their peers born into the highest income bracket. Anne Fernald, a psychologist who researches early language development at Stanford.
Get your child to fall in love with reading at an early age. Reading is an addiction that parents should encourage well before their baby's first birthday. The bonding experience is unbeatable, says Patricia Cowan, national program coordinator for Reach Out and Read, a project that gives children books during medical checkups. When you read to children, they're getting your full attention, and that's what they just love.
An infant won't understand everything you're doing or why. But reading aloud to your baby is a wonderful shared activity you can continue for years to come — and it's important for your baby's brain. By the time babies reach their first birthday they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your baby will hear and the better they'll be able to talk. Hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby's brain.