If it hasn't happened yet, it's likely your pediatrician will ask during your child's next well visit how much reading takes place at home.

Why the emphasis on reading to your child? The American Academy of Pediatrics is making a big push for its members to encourage parents and caregivers to start reading at birth. In June, the AAP issued a new recommendations on early literacy that emphasized "reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships…

And now the AAP has more information for parents to help. Last week, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the launch of an updated early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents when she spoke at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego.

"As we have learned in the last 15 years, scientists can literally watch the synapses and the neurons firing when parents are reading and talking with children from their very earliest days," said Clinton, as reported in a San Diego Union-Tribune article.

The toolkit builds off of the AAP's collaborative partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Next Generation. The organizations have committed to promote early literacy. As part of this effort, Scholastic, Inc. has agreed to donate 500,000 new, age-appropriate children's books for distribution through Reach Out and Read, which works with 20,000 medical providers nationwide to promote early reading and give books to 4 million children families annually at pediatric visits.

The tool kit has these tip sheets for parents:

The Secret to a Smarter Baby

Why It Is Never Too Early To Read With Your Baby

Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Sharing Books With Your Baby Up to Age 11 Months

Sharing Books With Your 1-Year-Old

Sharing Books With Your 2-Year-Old

Sharing Books With Your Preschooler

Sharing Books With Your School-Age Child

A webpage specifically for families from the toolkit also has a list of other online resource, which includes interactive reading games and stories; others have tips for helping struggling readers; and some have early literacy resources in a number of different languages.

As you may have already guessed, one of the 5 Rs of early education from the AAP involves reading, and here they all are:

  • ​Read together as a daily, fun, family activity.

  • Rhyme, play, talk, sing, and cuddle together often throughout the day.

  • Build Routines for meals, play, and sleep, which help children know what to expect and what is expected of them.

  • Give Rewards for everyday successes (especially for effort toward goals like helping), understanding that praise from those closest to a child is a very potent reward.

  • Develop Relationships that are nurturing, reciprocal, purposeful, and lasting, which are the foundations of healthy early brain and child development.

It's time to put these Rs into action! What advice to you have about nurturing early literacy in a child? How do you find time to read to your child(ren)?

Have a question for the Healthy Kids panel? Ask it here. Read more from the Healthy Kids blog »