Did you know that reading to your baby helps promote language skills? Science has shown that reading to your baby helps build vocabulary, speech, and later reading comprehension, literacy and overall intelligence. Yet, less than half of children under the age of 5 are read to every day.
Reading aloud to your child is such an important aspect of language development that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidance on how to read to your child, including book suggestions for every age.
But what if your baby is in the NICU?
Even if your baby is in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it is still incredibly valuable to read to him. The March of Dimes is partnering with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. to provide books to families who have a baby in a NICU. Parents are encouraged to choose books and read to their babies as often as they can.
In this resource, the AAP explains “Why it is never too early to read with your baby.” They say: “When parents talk, read, and sing with their babies and toddlers, connections are formed in their young brains. These connections build language, literacy, and social–emotional skills at an important time in a young child’s development. These activities strengthen the bond between parent and child.”
Why start reading today?
Today is World Read Aloud Day, a perfect time to start a new routine of reading to your child.
If you’re not sure what to read, you can ask your local librarian in the children’s room. You can also acquire books for a home library at second hand stores or even recycling stations. The “dump” in the town where I raised my kids has a book shed where you can drop off or pick up used books for free. And don’t forget, garage or yard sales are great places to get books for nickels. Having a mini-library at home has been shown to help children get off on the right academic foot.
But perhaps the best reason to read to your child is because it brings you together. The snuggles and cuddles, laughter and silliness that may result from reading a wonderful book, brings happiness to both parent and child.
Whether it is in the NICU or at home, reading aloud to your child is one of the most powerful things you will ever do. So grab a book, snuggle up, and enjoy!