Reading aloud to toddlers: how it helps your child's development: Head Start may be too late. The iconic federal preschool program targets low-income kids between 3 and 5, but the brain forms critical language connections in its first thousand days, experts say.
That’s the message the American Academy of Pediatrics sent to doctors who care for low-income children in a recent policy statement. A child who is read aloud to and has a rich language environment enjoys distinct advantages, the report argues, which linger well into the school years.
A 2012 study, cited in the APP report, found that 60 percent of high-income children were read to daily, while only 34 percent of those well below the poverty line were read to.
“Children from low-income homes are much less likely to have a language rich environment,” said Dr. Pamela High, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. “They hear fewer words and they know fewer words at age 3 than their more advantaged peers.”
Those differences play out in vocabulary and reading ability, said High, the primary author of the APP statement.