Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pediatricians' Rx for parents: Read to your children every day

Books are like medicine, and pediatricians should prescribe their daily use to build up the brains of their youngest patients, according to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Parents should read aloud to their infants every day and continue to do so at least until their children enter kindergarten. Pediatricians should emphasize the importance of daily reading during routine health checkups and dispense books to their patients, especially those from low-income families.

Many studies have documented that literacy has lifelong benefits for health. Adults who have trouble with reading are less likely to get preventive health care, are not as good at managing chronic diseases, are more likely to wind up in the hospital and are more likely to die prematurely, the policy statement noted.

A daily reading habit can cut all those risks, and it's never too early to start. "Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development," which "builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime," the report said. And yet, only one-third of young children in poverty are read to every day, a national survey found.

- Los Angeles Times

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