Study: Reading to Babies Can Boost Pre-School Literacy

Kimberly Giuliano, M.D., discusses new research that says reading books to infants can boost vocabulary and reading skills for years to come.

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CLEVELAND – Many parents spend countless hours reading bed-time stories to their babies and might wonder if it’s of any benefit.

According to new research, reading books to infants can boost vocabulary and reading skills for years to come.

Kimberly Giuliano, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s did not take part in the study, but encourages parents to start reading to their babies as soon as possible.

“It’s never too early to start. If you want to read to your newborn – that’s great,” said Dr. Giuliano. “They get in your arms, they’re comforted, they hear your voice and it’s a wonderful bonding experience for parents and babies alike.”

Researchers monitored 250 pairs of mothers and babies for four years and found that book-reading quality during infancy was a good predictor of early-reading skills.

They also found that a combination of book-reading quality and quantity during toddler years was a good predictor of literacy skills, such as name-writing, by age four.

Dr. Giuliano said once babies begin opening their eyes more and become more reactive to the world around them, they’re more than ready for books.

She said even if they’re only a few months old, they can still learn.

“Young babies, especially those under the age of one, love books that have a little bit more of a sensory feedback to them,” said Dr. Giuliano. “They learn by developing all different types of senses, so if they can hear, see, and touch, it really helps them to understand the concepts that are being presented to them in the book.”

Dr. Giuliano said it’s important for kids of all ages to spend time relaxing and reading every day.

“The more we engage our brains actively in reading, the better children do academically, the longer their attention spans are, and the more success they’re likely to have in school,” said Dr. Giuliano.

‘Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes’ was originally presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academies Society Meeting on May 8, 2017.

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