Story time routines benefit even the youngest children, helping them
to build vocabulary and communication skills critical to later
success in school, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said on
Tuesday in a new policy statement.
For babies, literacy can begin with cuddle time and brightly colored
books, the largest group of U.S. pediatricians advised. Rhyming,
playing, talking and singing are among the age-appropriate
activities promoting early literacy.
"You're not teaching a two-month-old how to read," said Dr. Danette
Glassy, a pediatrician near Seattle, Washington, who co-chairs the
AAP's Council on Early Childhood. "Your sitting down with them makes
your baby smart and wise."
Experts say reading or storytelling in early life predicts how well
children will do when they enter preschool, which translates to how
they do when they start kindergarten, associated with achievement
later in school and in life.
Yet the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children's Health found that
only one-third of U.S. children living in poverty were read to daily
from birth to five years of age.
By comparison, the survey found that 60 percent of children from
higher-income families received daily reading time. Pediatricians
see room for improvement at all income levels.
"Even the most affluent family can be distracted from interacting
with their baby," Glassy said. "They can entertain their babies in
non-human ways with all kinds of gadgets and gizmos that interfere
with their development."
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In previous recommendations, the AAP has discouraged parents from
exposing children under the age of two years to television and other
forms of screen media entertainment, which can be detrimental to
Glassy said encouraging reading to children from infancy will help
the organization's 62,000 pediatricians promote an alternative way
for families to pass time with young children.
(This story was refiled to clarify headline)
(Editing by Sandra Maler)
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