With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, a new policy announced by the [b]American Academy of Paediatrics[/b] will ask doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth. [s]The New York Times[/s] reports that the group is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor. This is the first time the academy has officially weighed in on early literacy education. Reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives. Nearly two decades ago a study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than have those of less educated, low-income parents, giving the children who have heard more words a distinct advantage in school. New research shows that these gaps emerge as early as 18 months.
[s]Reuters Health[/s] reports that according to the [b]2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health[/b], only one-third of US children living in poverty were read to daily from birth to five years of age. By comparison, the survey found that 60% of children from higher-income families received daily reading time. But paediatricians see room for improvement at all income levels. ‘Even the most affluent family can be distracted from interacting with their baby,’ paediatrician Dr Danette Glassy said. ‘They can entertain their babies in non-human ways with all kinds of gadgets and gizmos that interfere with their development.’