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Parents Should Read to Kids Daily: Pediatrics Group

The practice should begin in infancy, American Academy of Pediatrics says, to prepare kids for school, life
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Children whose parents don't read to them "hear fewer words and know fewer words. They have fewer literacy resources in the home," she said. "In children with stronger reading abilities, you will learn that their parents started reading to them at a younger age."

Parents reading to their young children also creates a nurturing experience that promotes social and emotional development during a critical period of early development, the statement reads.

"It really is evidence-based that we're going to have several benefits of daily reading from infancy on. It stimulates brain development, and there's no question their speech/language development will be enhanced," said Dr. Peter Richel, chief of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "It also enriches the family experience, and contributes to social/emotional development."

Richel said that his hospital already has taken steps to make literacy promotion part of the education that new pediatricians receive.

"We're adding this in terms of their training, to counsel parents during well-child visits to include daily reading," he said.

Poverty makes a difference in parents' reading to kids, and the policy statement encourages state and federal funding for children's books to be provided to parents at or near the poverty line.

About 34 percent of children age 5 and younger in families living below the poverty line are read to daily, compared to 60 percent of kids in families living 400 percent or more above the poverty line, High said.

Parents should keep reading to their children for as long as their kids show an interest, she said.

"My personal choice about that was I kept reading to my kids until they were 10 or 11," High said, noting that as kids grow older parents can help improve reading comprehension by having deeper discussions about each book.

Richel agreed, but added that parents should make sure they don't force reading upon an uninterested teen.

"When they are reading, some kids want to have every book in the world, while others want to pick up every piece of athletic equipment they see and aren't really in love with reading," he said. "I would make that [reading] part of the routine as long as it lasts. When there's the eye roll, you don't want to be counterproductive, so you never force."

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