When doctors say ‘Read,’ new parents listen

December 1, 2018

A campaign to get parents talking, reading and singing to their infants and toddlers by sending the message through pediatricians is working, new report shows

Nearly four years ago, a baby boy named Anselmo Santos sat in his doctor’s office in Oakland, California, chewing on a cardboard children’s book. The book came from a specially designed tote bag of literacy tools that Anselmo’s doctor had just handed his mother. While the chubby infant chewed, Dr. Dayna Long explained the importance of talking, reading and singing with young children to encourage healthy brain development.

“You taught me something I didn’t know,” Nicole Wright, Anselmo’s mom, told the doctor when she heard that 80 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the time they turn 3. “I talk to him from the time he gets up until the time he goes to bed. It’s something we’re already doing, but we’ll do it even more.”

This exchange, covered by The Hechinger Report in January 2015, was not a stand-alone event. It was replicated thousands of times in the hospitals that were participating in The Clinton Foundation’s Too Small To Fail campaign, aimed at teaching low-income parents to talk, read and sing with their children even more than they already are.