How Pediatricians and Health Care Professionals Can Help

At Regular and Other Checkups

  • Model for parents how to talk to babies and children and respond to their attempts at language. Encourage them to do this.

  • Encourage parents to play with language with their children, for example, reciting rhymes and singing songs.

  • Encourage parents to make books, papers, and writing materials available and suggest that children should use reading and writing activities in daily play.

  • Discuss with parents and children the importance of reading to and with children.

  • Provide understandable brochures and videos in their waiting rooms (in the native languages of their patients) encouraging literacy-oriented activities with children.

“During the course of a day in a busy pediatrician’s office, I don’t think any of us does as well as we should. But promoting literacy should be a very big priority…. Every checkup should include some sort of developmental screening—even if informal, from observing how the child interacts with the parent in the room. If we can’t get what we need that way, we should ask questions directly. After every visit, the pediatrician should assure himself or herself that the child is up to snuff developmentally. That’s basic…. We have reading materials in every exam room—a bucket full of books to let families know that we believe reading is important. During checkups, I discuss literature with kids. I’ll ask what they’ve been reading and tell them some of my favorite books from childhood. Sometimes I prescribe books for kids to read.”

—Daniel Shapiro, M.D.


Silver Spring, Maryland

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