Reading and Brain Development-

by Rayyan M. Anwer, MD, FACOG –

It’s no surprise that in these modern times, our children are being exposed to a plethora of new things daily. More than 95 percent of a child’s brain is formed during the first 6 years of life. Certain exposures and experiences irreversibly affect how the brain develops. It is of paramount importance for parents and caregivers to be proactive when it comes to their children’s development. The follow-ing information is my presentation of the valuable and effective initiative know as Reach out and Read and the amazing resources available on their website http://www.reachoutandread.org.

Nurturing from a loving caregiver in the early years of life supports healthy brain development. This forms the foundation for success later at school and in life. One of the best ways to engage with young children is looking at books together. Infants and young children primarily learn communica-tion from watching faces and lips. Even the youngest baby loves to be held close and hear the voices of his or her parents as they read a book aloud. It is widely accepted that reading aloud promotes early literacy skills and is the single most important activity that will lead to language development.
Here are a few more benefits of reading out loud to your children:

• Builds motivation, curiosity, and memory
• Helps children cope during times of stress or anxiety
• Takes children to places and times they have never been which enlarges and enhances their world
• Creates a positive association with books and reading

I would also like to share with you the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “5 Rs” of early education. These suggestions proactively build critical social-emotional language skills that support healthy brain development:

• Read together every day with your child
• Rhyme, play, and cuddle with your child every day
• Develop Routines: particularly around meals, sleep, and family fun
• Reward your child with praise for successes to build self-esteem and pro-mote positive behavior
• Develop a strong and nurturing Relationship with your child as the foun-dation for their healthy development

These efforts, or what the AAP calls “investments,” promote early brain development, provide a healthy start, and build a solid foundation for school success and life-long productivity. This is especially true in the first 1000 days of a child’s life.

Developing a love of reading helps children academically by helping them become good self-learners. Reading also helps grow their imaginations and strengthens their self-regulation and resilience to stress. Having a conversation about what was read or what is being read while focusing on emotions and empathy has a significant effect