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Prescribing Reading

A guest blog post by Dr. Lynn Wilson, Sterling Sharpe Pediatrics, in Columbia S.C.

One of my greatest joys as a pediatrician is helping parents along the journey of leading and guiding their children as they grow and learn and develop.

There are volumes of advice I can give—words of wisdom I have learned through the years from others and examples I have from my own personal experience of parenting.

My favorite bit of advice is encouraging parents to teach their children a love of books; a love of words on a page that teach, create, show beauty and wonder; a love of turning pages that transport the reader to places of imagination and adventure.

Sitting with a young child on your lap reading words on a page, looking at pictures together, laughing at funny lines-—what an incredible way to spend a few moments that will make impressions for a life time.  Or, as the child grows older, reading aloud books that teach, entertain, and push them into the great adventure of a story and perhaps even spark good conversation-what a worthwhile way to spend time together.

I encourage parents to be readers as well- to lead by example, to create within the home a reading rich environment and a love of reading and words that children will want to follow.

Handing books to children at a well child visit opens up opportunities for the above conversations to take place. Showing parents how to look at a book with a 9 month old, laughing at silly pictures with a 2 year old, counting penguins on a page with a 3 year old, having a 4 year old tell me a made up a story as she looks at the pictures and “reads” the words- all chances to pass on the love of books and encourage parents to be active in their children’s lives and education.

As a pediatrician I want to help raise a generation of children who will be thoughtful and kind and creative and wise and expressive with words and ideas- books are a wonderful tool to use to help accomplish this.

Encouraging parents to read to children early in their lives and doing that at every opportunity is a great use of my time while in a visit with families. Books are treasure chests ready to be opened and enjoyed by all- hopefully I can encourage parents to dig in and share that treasure with their children.

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Get your baby talking. If your child makes a noise, respond. It may make no sense to you, but it’s communication.