The first 3 years of life is the most intensive period for speech and language development. Reading, talking, and singing regularly with young children from birth stimulates brain development. This stimulation in turn builds language, literacy, and a child’s motivation to learn.  

Learn more about early language learning.

Reading aloud with young children is one of the most effective ways to expose them to enriched language and to encourage specific early literacy skills needed to promote school readiness. Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime. Pediatric providers have a unique opportunity to encourage parents to engage in this important and enjoyable activity with their children beginning in infancy. 


Promoting Literacy in Pediatric Primary Care 

As a pediatrician, you know the important role that safe, stable, and nurturing relationships play in building healthy brains. For better or worse, plasticity makes the developing brain exquisitely sensitive to early experiences – particularly early relationships.   Brain development is also a cumulative process, with simple connections and circuits forming the foundation for more complex pathways and behaviors later on. 

The "5 Rs" of early education proactively build the critical social-emotional-language skills that support healthy brain development. Encouraging parents to engage in the following activities will nurture these critical skills and may alleviate or minimize the toxic stress that often derails healthy brain development: 

  • Read together every day with your child 
  • Rhyme, play and cuddle with your child every day 
  • Develop Routines, particularly around meals, sleep, and family fun 
  • Reward your child with praise for successes to build self-esteem and promote positive behavior 
  • Develop a strong and nurturing Relationship with your child as the foundation for their healthy development

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American Academy of Pediatrics