- Did you know that when babies gnaw on a board book they are reading?
- Did you know that pre-school children who can identify some letters or follow a story by the pictures in a book are reading (at their developmental stage)?
- Did you know that children who read regularly develop their brains differently and have higher intellectual functioning later in life?
- Did you know that reading is fun and children love the opportunity to read and be read to?
The first five years are critical for developing early reading skills. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to books and reading in the home at an early age do better with vocabulary and reading skills when they get to school.
For all of these reasons, each of our Primary Cares sites at The University of Vermont Medical Center host the Reach Out and Read program. In this program, we give out a free book to infants and children (ages 6 months to 5 years old) at their well child visit. At each visit, we also try to give parents a lesson about reading that is at that child’s developmental level. Children love getting a new book that is their very own to take home after the visit. For some of our families, these are the first books introduced to the children and they really open the door to reading.
All of our practices have been active participating in Reach Out and Read for years. This program is beloved by all – patients, families, physicians, nurses and other providers. With many thanks to Bank of America and the GRK Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, we are continuing this fabulous initiative in 2015. We hope to find ways to have many more years of encouraging reading to the next generation.
Here are some tips to get you and your child or children reading:
- Make reading part of every day, even for just a few minutes.
- Have fun.
- Talk about the pictures. You do not have to read the book to tell a story.
- Let your child turn the pages.
- Show your child the cover page. Explain what the story is about.
- Run your finger along the words as you read them.
- Silly sounds, especially animal sounds, are fun to make.
- Choose books about events in your child’s life such as starting preschool, going to the dentist, getting a new pet, or moving to a new home.
- Make the story come alive. Create voices for the story characters.
- Ask questions about the story. What do you think will happen next? What is this?
- Let your child ask questions about the story. Talk about familiar activities and objects.
- Let your child retell the story.
- Visit your local library often.
For reading tips for different age groups, visit the Reach Out and Read Resource Center Online.
Alicia Jacobs, MD, family medicine physician, is Vice Chair of Clinical Operations in Family Medicine at The University of Vermont Medical Center. She is also practices at Family Medicine Colchester. Nellie Wirsing, MD, family medicine physician, practices at Family Medicine Milton. She is also Assistant Professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM.