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AAP Recommends Parents to Read Aloud to their Children

Update Date: Jun 24, 2014 10:02 AM EDT

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) consists of 62,000 pediatricians who draft and follow guidelines and recommendations that promote the physical and mental health statuses of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. In the group's latest recommendation, they urge parents to begin reading stories aloud to their children starting at birth.

"Reading with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships and stimulate early language development," Dr. Pamela High, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University's Alpert Medical School who was a part of drafting the policy, said reported by HuffPost. "The benefits are so compelling that encouraging reading at check-ups has become an essential part of care."

According to the doctors, more and more evidence suggests that the brain develops significantly during the first three years of a kid's life. In order to maximize on this window of learning, the AAP will instruct pediatricians to become "powerful advocates for reading aloud," the New York Times reported. Even though newborns and toddlers might not understand the concepts read to them, constant exposure to different stories can enhance their vocabulary and communication skills.

"The reality of today's world is that we're competing with portable digital media," said Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician in Orangeburg, N.Y. "So you really want to arm parents with tools and rationale behind it about why it's important to stick to the basics of things like books."

The authors of the policy added, "Even in higher-income families, many children do not experience the enhanced engagement and language-rich parent-child interactions, including book handling, print exposure and other early literacy experiences afforded by daily shared reading. All families face issues of limited time, limited parental understanding of the key role of reading aloud and competition for the child's interest and attention from other sources of entertainment, such as electronic media."

The AAP typically advises mothers about physical health topics, such as breastfeeding. The latest policy will be the group's first step into the filed of early literary education. The experts hope that their latest recommendation can boost children's cognitive abilities.

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