Health & Safety

July 11, 2014

Reading to babies is vital to brain development

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Victoria Yarbrough
Leisure and Library Services Director

Studies show that parents who read to children from newborn to 3 when a baby’s brain goes through major changes especially related to vocabulary and communication skills, help play a major part in enhancing those skills.

One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading to my brother, sister and me. She would read to us before naptime, and the whole Family gathered together before bed to listen to a story. I loved this time and taught myself to read by memorizing the words she spoke and matching them to what was on the page.

More and more studies are showing that reading to children is extremely important during the most critical time in a baby’s life — birth to age 3. This is when a baby’s brain goes through major changes especially related to vocabulary and communication skills, and reading to babies plays a major part in enhancing those skills. Reading increases the number of words by millions heard in a baby’s life that they might never hear otherwise. It is so important to read to babies that the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new policy just last month that recommends even pediatricians should encourage new parents to read to their babies.

Reading to children also increases their attention span and cognitive ability. Think about the rapidly changing world of television and mobile devices today. Exposing children to only that kind of mental stimulation can teach them that what they’re seeing should change rapidly, and they eventually learn to expect to see something new every few seconds. But reading leads children to imagine and see a story develop gradually, which teaches them to pay attention for longer periods of time.

There are many ways you can find more time to read to your children every day. Hours of reading are wonderful but not required; simply read at least one story to them before putting them to bed, or select a five-minute window in your day.

Books can be checked out from the Sierra Vista Public Library for up to three weeks, with one three-week renewal, and there are no checkout limits on books. Stock up with one story to read every day for a few weeks! A selection of children’s e-books is also growing in the library’s collection. Enlist older children, grandparents and caregivers to read a story to your little one — it can help them bond with the baby, and may even increase their own reading skills.

Giving children what they need to lead a happy, successful life will forever be a challenge to every parent, but the library can help with at least one tool to make that happen. Stop by the Sierra Vista Public Library seven days a week at 2600 E. Tacoma St., visit www.SierraVistaAZ.gov/svlibrary, or call 520.458.4225.




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