STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Five reasons you should be reading to baby from birth

Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

New parents are often bombarded with advice and tips from everyone around them.

From things like how to dress your baby, to what to feed them, it can be a bit overwhelming.

But there is one piece of advice the American Academy of Pediatrics wants to make sure you follow: Reading to your baby from the time they're born. 

Reading aloud to kids has been proven to help build vocabulary and language skills; give them background information to make sense of what they see, hear and read; and lets them use their imaginations to explore people, places, times and events beyond their own experiences.

But why read to your baby, who can't process these concepts or communicate their understanding just yet? Here's why:

1. Reading aloud sets the stage for school readiness.

According to Reach Out and Read, an organization that partners with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together, 66% of children in the U.S. are not proficient in reading by the end of third grade.

The first five years of life offer a critical window for learning, with rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time. If children miss the opportunity to acquire foundational language skills, they are set up for immediate struggles with literacy as soon as they arrive at school.

2. Reading aloud stimulates language skills, cognitive thinking, and enhances memory.

Sherry Artemenko, a speech-language pathologist and founder of Play on Words – a service that offers speech and language coaching – told Parents Magazine:

Reading him books will help teach him context for new words. For instance, a book about a cow will use certain words (like cow and spots) repeatedly and in a variety of ways. The pictures will help sharpen his memory for those words. You can also narrate your daily activities using descriptive vocabulary. When you say, "Let's put on your red-striped shirt" or "I can feel the warm sand on my feet," you're helping your baby get ready to say his first word.

3. Reading aloud can help build your child's vocabulary.

According to KidsHealth:

Hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby's brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.

4. Reading aloud helps children bond with their parents.

According to

The intimate experience of reading yields important lessons about behavior, feelings, and the enduring bonds of relationships. It's a gift for time-challenged parents who may feel guilty about missing special moments with their kids. Snuggle together before lights-out, or schedule a Sunday morning reading hour, and you rekindle emotional closeness as well as impart important lessons, ease difficult transitions, heal personal pain, and celebrate family life.

5. Reading aloud lets children associate reading and books with warm, pleasant feelings.

According to Parents Magazine:

Making it a part of your regular family routine will teach your child that reading is something to be enjoyed, not a chore that needs to be done for school. That attitude will foster a love of reading that will take her through school and into adulthood.

So now that you know why it's important, how do you actually get a squirmy baby to listen to you read?

You can check out Tips on Reading to Babies by CloudMom below:

You can also check out these tips from Reading is Fundamental, Inc.

Do you have any tips for reading to baby? If so, let us know in the comments below.