This past weekend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) new early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents. The toolkit – Books Build Connections – provides updated, practical resources for pediatric professionals, as well as guidance for families on the importance of talking, reading, and singing with their children to promote early learning. The toolkit will be shared with the AAP’s 62,000 pediatrician members at their annual convention this week.
In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a partnership with Too Small to Fail (a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation), Scholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development. The organizations have committed to supporting early literacy and ensuring that doctors, parents and caregivers have the information, tools and books they need to promote talking, reading out loud and singing to children every day starting in infancy.
Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, as reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life. But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper class families hear 30 million more words than their lower income peers.
“Coming to school without words is like coming to school without breakfast or books,” said Clinton.
This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words, which puts children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school.
"Fewer than half of children younger than 5 years old are read to daily in our country... now, more pediatricians are taking a stand to spread the news more widely through our recent policy, toolkit and partnership with Too Small to Fail. Talking, reading and singing with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships, foster early language skills and promote children's development,” said James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP.
Pediatricians offer a nearly universal way to reach children before they begin school, and it is exciting to have the AAP’s 62,000 members as powerful advocates for reading and talking to children early and often!
Click here to watch Clinton's full remarks at the AAP conference, and to read more about the early literacy toolkit, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.