Increase overall number of words children are exposed to through reading, talking and singing
Increase parents reading aloud to children
Create a live long love of books and reading for families and mothers
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently adopted standards encouraging its members to stress the importance of reading aloud to infants from birth. Babies need to hear words and how they’re used in language. Children who have heard more words have a clear advantage in school. Reading, talking and singing to babies are the primary methods of increasing the number of words children hear in the first years of life. Of these, reading offers the greatest variety of words. Many parents do not interact verbally with their children enough to build the necessary pre-literacy skills. Often, parents are unaware of the importance of reading, talking and singing to babies and young children. They may not know that the public libraries can help.
Of the 10,000 babies born at Parkland in 2015, approximately two-thirds were born to Spanish speaking mothers. Bi-lingual books allow Latino families to use the language with which they feel most comfortable. In a recent study from the University of California, Latino preschoolers fell behind their non-Hispanic white counterparts in early language and pre-literacy skills even though the two groups were equal in social competencies and intelligence. Latino toddlers between two and three years of age displayed language and cognitive skills about eight months behind their non-Hispanic white peers. This gap persisted through ages four and five, resulting in the Latino children entering pre-kindergarten already at a disadvantage. The researchers discovered that Latino mothers engaged less frequently in cognitive facilitation, oral language, and pre-literacy activities such as reading to young children at home. There was also a marked lack of exposure to complex oral language and reading materials in many Latino homes.
Reading to babies and toddlers, no matter which language is used, promotes now the pre-literacy skills children will need later to succeed at reading in school. The BOOKS FOR DALLAS BABIES project hopes to include additional languages in the future.