Author: Kimberly Nicholson, MD, FAAP
Are you looking for a fun, rewarding, calming activity that can be done at home with your baby or young child? Read a book together.
Reading aloud to children starting at birth has many documented benefits, including improved language development and school readiness, and is associated with better reading and spelling skills in elementary school. Children who are read to early and often even have less aggressive behavior and fewer problems with inattention.
It is for all these reasons and more that we at Physicians’ Primary Care Pediatrics are proud to be a local participating site with Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read is a national nonprofit program started 30 years ago that encourages families to read aloud together by incorporating books and developmentally appropriate discussions of reading into your child’s regularly scheduled checkups.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician about what to expect and how to foster a love of reading and books. Sharing a book with your baby is a wonderful nurturing activity: as you cuddle together, you will look at and describe the pictures and relate the characters and stories to your home and life.
Of course, it is normal if a baby explores the book with his mouth, and there will be times when you can’t get through a whole page, much less a whole book. Your child is still learning about the structure of letters and written language, the direction of the story, and how to handle the book, and he will love to hear your voice as you read the words or make funny noises or even just talk about your joint activity.
As pediatricians and as ambassadors for Reach Out and Read, we promote books and reading year-round, but the month of March also brings National Read Across America Day. As a celebration of books and reading, Read Across America motivates children and teens to read using a variety of live and online events and resources. Its website (readacrossamerica.org) includes tips for parents, information and links to events, and links to book programs for both online and physical books.
Locally, all libraries are open at the time of this writing and also have an option for curbside pickup. Get your hands on a great book today, and make a plan to share it with your kids. Reading together will bring your family joy today and for years to come.
— Kimberly Nicholson, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician with Physicians’ Primary Care of Southwest Florida in the Fort Myers pediatrics office at 9350 Camelot Drive (239-481-5437) and in the Cape Coral office at 1261 Viscaya Parkway (239-573-7337).