AAP Issues Statement on Helping Children Learn to Read

Reading daily with your children promotes early literacy skills

(RxWiki News) Mother Goose. Clifford the Big Red Dog. Dr. Seuss. Franklin the Turtle. Such favorite characters delight children, and they may also teach them to love reading.

Parents can play a large part in helping their children learn to read and prepare for school, according to a policy statement by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The statement discusses ways that pediatricians can help encourage parents to read to their children.

The recommendations also address other activities parents can engage in to promote their children's literacy.

"Read to your children daily."

The policy statement was issued by the Council on Early Childhood by the AAP, led by Pamela C. High, MD, of the Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption and Dependent Care.

One in three children start kindergarten without the language skills they need to be successful in learning to read, the statement noted.

"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," the authors wrote.

They provided a list of the "5 Rs" that can promote reading readiness in early childhood education:

  • "Reading together as a daily fun family activity."
  • "Rhyming, playing, talking, singing and cuddling together throughout the day."
  • "Routines and regular times for meals, play and sleeping, which help children know what they can expect and what is expected from them."
  • "Rewards for everyday successes, particularly for effort toward worthwhile goals." Such a worthwhile goal is helping around the house, for example. The authors noted that praise from loved ones is a powerful reward for children.
  • "Relationships that are reciprocal, nurturing, purposeful and enduring." Such relationships provide an important foundation for children's mental and overall development.

The statement also reviewed five major recommendations for pediatricians to promote early literacy among their clients.

The first of these recommendations is to encourage all parents to read aloud with their children.

Reading aloud encourages early language and literacy skills while also helping their social and emotional development.

Secondly, pediatricians are encouraged to help parents pick out developmentally appropriate reading materials that children and parents will enjoy.

If you are uncertain about what books are best to read or need recommendations on reading materials, you can ask your child's pediatrician for suggestions.

Thirdly, the statement urges pediatricians to provide "developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate books" to low-income families and those at higher risk for poorer academic readiness.

If you cannot afford books for your family, ask your pediatrician about resources available to you.

The fourth recommendation encourages pediatricians to use wall posters, brochures and other materials to promote literacy in their practices.

These resources should include information about local public libraries and other literacy resources in the community.

The final recommendation suggests that pediatricians partner with other child advocates in the community to promote literacy messages.

The goal of all these recommendations is to help parents find age-appropriate reading materials and encourage them to read to their children daily — the most important activity for promoting language and literacy skills.

This statement was published June 24 in the journal Pediatrics. The statement did not require external funding. Information on conflicts of interest was not provided.

Review Date: 
June 27, 2014