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The Importance of Encouraging Parents to Read Aloud to Their Young Children

There is a well documented and growing achievement gap between children growing up in the United States that starts in early childhood and persists through school and college into adulthood. It has become increasingly important to determine the factors that affect child development, both positively and negatively, so as to identify how we can give every child the opportunity to grow up into well-rounded adults. This is important for the future of our families, our communities and our nation.

Encouraging Parents to Read Aloud to Their Young Children

Advances in neuroscience technology over the last two decades have allowed us to chart human brain development. The evidence is still accumulating, but it is now well established that our brains develop most rapidly during the first few years of life. The brain has reached 95% of its full size by the age of six.1

Areas of the brain associated with specific skills develop sequentially - the sensory pathways develop first, followed by connections that result in language capability, followed by higher cognitive function. What is most significant is that maximal development for all functions occurs during the first five years of life.3

Child development studies have shown that the architecture of the early developing brain is influenced by a child's experience. Nurturing from a loving parent or caregiver stimulates the brain to develop the circuits that provide the foundation for emotional well-being, social competence and cognitive abilities. Conversely, adverse experiences prevent the brain from developing to its full capacity.

The best time to have an impact on children's achievement is during this critical window of early brain development, from birth through five years. And the best way of positively influencing early brain development is to strengthen the capacity of adults to nurture their children. Giving parents guidance about cuddling, talking to, and playing with their infants and toddlers will help them to support their child's development.

So, how do we reach parents of young children with this guidance?

This is where Reach Out and Read comes in! Our program is integrated into the pediatric healthcare system, so that we have repeated and unparalleled access to families with children from birth through five years at well-child checkups. Over 84% of children visit a pediatric healthcare provider during their first year.  By offering guidance about reading aloud to infants and toddlers, as a simple way of encouraging language-rich nurturing, our medical providers can help parents to give their children the best start in life.

1Lenroot, R.K. & Giedd, J.N Brain development in children and adolescents: Insights from anatomical magnetic resonance imaging. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 30 (2006) 718-729 


Written by Nikki Shearman at 09:04


Zwaps said...
Hi! Great blog! I was so happy to see you are enjoying our newset product on BrainPOP "GameUp" with your students. Any interest in sharing how you are using "GameUp" as a guest blogger? We reach a pretty big audience -- over 136,000 educators! I know other teachers would be inspired by learning about how you use it! Please let me know if you're interested. I'm happy to help out however I can!Kindest Regards,
October 16, 2015 08:41
Gaby said...
Media club at Sherubtse College called Sherubtse Media Society (SMS), has ineedd covered 10 schools under the program called Media tour which was streamlined so that media literacy to the fragile youths be reached before SORRY. Presenting and interacting on Core concepts of Media, deconstruction of media and their concerns, it was visible that they were warned and educated well about the media. It was successful tour because we succeeded in telling them that media should be consumed well. A girl even pointed out in our interview, Media cannot be master, rather, our slave. That was brilliant. I felt such Media tour should find continuity. -1Was this answer helpful?
October 16, 2015 01:08
Alex said...
I read to my kids everyday, I agree that its very important.
September 18, 2015 07:30


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