March 2 is National Read Across America Day. The day was established by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1998 to help get kids excited about reading. The day occurs each year on the birthday of beloved children’s book author Dr. Seuss. Our Pediatrics team here at Quincy Medical Group knows the value of reading to your child’s development. We asked a few questions of QMG Pediatrician Dr. Todd Porter on the topic of literacy. Below are his responses.

When should you start reading to children? 
You should start reading to your baby during the pregnancy and continue after he/she is born.

How does reading benefit children?
Reading is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child and to expose their growing minds to oral language which will build their vocabulary. Oral language is a fundamental component of reading comprehension when they are older.

For school-age kids, if a parent has concerns about their child’s reading ability, what should they do?
If the parent has a concern about their child’s reading ability they should speak to the child’s teacher to see how he/she is scoring on reading assessments. Ask if the child is reading at grade level. I would also ask what tier level of reading support the child qualifies for which starts with basic Tier 1 (classroom teacher) up to Tier 3 (reading interventionist). It is helpful to ask the school what core reading program is used and if reading intervention provided is Structured Literacy which is founded in systematic and explicit phonics. One popular type of Structured Literacy is Orton-Gillingham. Parents can review this Literacy Dialogue Too tool to prepare for such conversations with the child’s school.

Why is this such an important topic for you personally?
Literacy has become another developmental domain that pediatricians should monitor. Personally, I have two children with dyslexia and have witnessed their struggles in school with learning to read so that they can eventually read to learn. I have witnessed patients experience school failure due to reading struggles. With Structured Literacy in our schools, we can prevent this.

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