Under new guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, for the first time pediatricians will discuss with parents the importance of early literacy.
Research has shown that much of the brain's development happens during the first three years of a child's life, The Washington Post reports. When it comes to literacy, less than half of all children under the age of 5 are read to daily, and by the age of 4, children living in poverty have heard 30 million fewer words than wealthier kids. To help combat this, the AAP and the publisher Scholastic will donate 500,000 books to Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit that gives out books to low-income families.
"Reading to children and with children is a very joyous event and a way of fostering a relationship, as well as [helping] language development," says Dr. Pamela High, lead author of the policy statement. "And we don't have to wait until we're getting them ready for school. We can make it part of regular routine."
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