Raising Readers: The First Three Years

Just as children develop language skills long before being able to speak, they also develop literacy skills long before being able to read. What parents do, or don’t do, has a lasting impact on their child’s reading skills.

Children develop much of their capacity for learning in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90 percent of their eventual adult weight. When parents talk, sing, and read to their child, links among the child’s brain cells are strengthened and new cells and links are formed.



Young children learn by playing.  Parents can help stimulate language and literacy development by singing lullabies, dramatizing their child's favorite story, and engaging in other fun interactions.

Reading Aloud


Many pediatricians believe that a child who has never held a book or listened to a story is not a fully healthy child. Despite the considerable evidence of a relationship between reading regularly to a child and that child's later reading development, six in ten babies and five in ten toddlers are not read to regularly by parents or family members.

Reading aloud to young children is so critical that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors prescribe reading activities along with other advice given to parents at regular check-ups.

Source: Fast Facts on Raising Readers: What Families Can Do.  America Reads Challenge, U.S. Department of Education.


Advice for New Parents

Be a Literacy "Informant"

Have you read an early literacy article in your favorite newspaper, magazine, or online?  If so, let us know by sending an e-mail to
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