March 2 is Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Read Across America Day. On this day that celebrates reading, here are our top 10 reasons that reading is important:
- Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind
- Reading is “brain food”
- Reading helps children be compassionate and develop empathy
On any given day, UW Health maternal-fetal medicine physician Katie Antony is helping women: helping an expectant mom navigate a complicated pregnancy, or in the delivery room bringing a new baby into the world. She is also a mother of two: daughter Tara, almost three, and baby son Linus .
She can now add “children’s book author” to the list.
The beginning of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of reading for children who may not voluntarily pick up a book outside of school. An American Family Children’s Hospital pediatrician has tips for keeping kids engaged after the school year’s final bell rings.
“There are strategies for integrating reading into a child’s life, no matter how young or old they are,” said Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, pediatrician and director of University of Wisconsin Pediatric Early Literacy Projects, which includes the clinic-based Reach Out and Read program and the American Family Children’s Hospital Inpatient Reading Library.
Many of us have a fond memory with a book as the focal point: one that was read to us countless times by parents or grandparents, or maybe even the first we read on our own, which for me was Amazing Grace. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to realize how fortunate I was to have books surrounding me from birth along with people who cared enough to read them.
I started volunteering with Reach Out and Read at an inner city hospital in Minneapolis. The volunteer coordinator started our training by holding up a file folder with the word “upscuddle” scrawled on it. Assuming this was a word many of us were not familiar with, she went on to say that children who have been read to have more than quadruple the vocabulary coming into kindergarten than their counterparts. The comparison was drawn: the confusion I felt at the word “upscuddle” happens on a moment-to-moment basis for children with a limited vocabulary, reading and writing skills.
Books Build Better Brains. Even better, those same books, when shared together with a child, become even more important to their development. This is because social connections and relationships matter deeply.
For young children, being aware of books and familiar with their conventions is key — despite not being able to “read” yet, the positive associations of being read to regularly, of understanding that books contain delightful stories, and of the critical idea that print conveys information, all together leads to their brains wiring in the best possible way for school readiness. The research is clear: children who are read to on a daily basis have improved language scores and will enter kindergarten with higher letter recognition.