What You Need to Know

Reading skill is the single strongest predictor of adult health status. Becoming a good reader starts at birth! Even though young kids can't read yet, they love listening as you read and looking at the pictures with you. Every book you read is a building block for future reading success and a step toward healthy living.

Why Reading Matters to Health

Reading and health go hand-in-hand throughout life. Think about it - if you are a good reader in school, you:

  • Know you are smart
  • Want to show your "best" at school each day

Those early successes tell you how you are doing in school compared to your classmates. They set the foundation for your self-esteem.

On the flip side, if you struggle with reading, you may:

  • Withdraw in class, because you are scared of being called on to read out loud or write on the board
  • Act out to avoid attention to your reading problem, or because you are angry
  • Have headaches, stomachaches, anxiety, and fatigue because of your stress

As a parent, you end up taking your child to doctors, getting medical tests, trying medications, when all along, the problem may be: reading.

Now fast-forward to adulthood. How is reading still connected with health?

  • Reading is the basis for school achievement
  • Reading skill and education help determine your job and income
  • Your job and income help determine access to good health care and whether you can live in a healthy neighborhood
  • When you have confidence that you are smart and can read, you ask more questions and seek out information about your health and the health of your family

What You Can Do for Your Child

  • Talk with your doctor at every checkup about your child's language and reading readiness milestones and your questions
  • Read at least 10 minutes a day or more with your child
  • Have 20 or more children's books in your home, including library books
  • Limit screen time, especially for children younger than 4

Tips By Age

Babies love books with bold black and white pictures and babies' faces.

Choose books with simple, colorful pictures and those with textures or "flaps" babies can lift.

It's OK to read the same book over and over! It builds confidence, and your toddler can start filling in some words.

Kids this age love books with rhythm and rhyme. Talk about what new words mean too.

Read books about familiar situations for your child and family. Ask questions that go beyond a "yes-no" answer.

Take our free Preschool Reading Screener! You'll find out if your child is on track and get a personal action plan.