Talk and Read to your Children: Literacy Starts at Birth

Apr 14, 2019 | Blog

This month, we are focusing on early literacy. Researchers have learned that when parents read books with their babies and engage with them throughout the reading process, this translates into strong reading skills later in life. The more words children hear and understand, the more their vocabulary and reading skills are likely to be. Talking, reading and engaging with your children is imperative. Your actions literally have the potential to light up your child’s brain!

From First 5 California:

In fact, the first three years of a child’s life are the most critical for speech and language development because the brain is best able to absorb language during this period. That’s why it’s important to talk, listen, read, sing, and play games with young children and help teach important language skills that will last a lifetime.

Studies have shown that parents who speak to their babies throughout the day about activities that are happening around them hear about 45 million words in their first four years. In families that are not talking and engaging as much, the children heard only about 13 million words in their first four years. This is an enormous difference.

How can you help your child? Talk to them and read to them starting at birth. Yes, birth. The more you read and speak to your baby, the better. It helps develop problem solving, cognitive and critical thinking skills for later in life. In addition, preschoolers who have been read to more were found to be better able to understand and empathize with other people.

Early reading and speaking to your babies and children has many benefits – including bonding. Taking the time to sit down, cuddle up, and read with your children helps them to feel loved, safe, secure and good about themselves.

From our Zero to Three partners:

Learning to read and write doesn’t start in kindergarten or first grade.

Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through everyday loving interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. […] Adults—parents, grandparents, and teachers—play a very important role in preparing young children for future school success and helping them become self-confident and motivated learners.

So, talk to your baby as much as possible! Tell them all about everything you’re doing in a day. They may not be able to understand you yet, but they are listening. They are absorbing. They are learning and they are bonding.

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