SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A new program through the San Diego County Library and First 5 San Diego hopes to create literate, resilient children who have a life-long love of learning.
"Hooray for Reading" starts this summer across San Diego.
The program puts the emphasis on reading to children under the age of 5, to help them develop language and thinking skills.
"It encourages early literacy by showing kids that they can read and learn anywhere," says Dr. Wilma Wooten, the Public Health Officer for San Diego County. "The signs on the streets can be read, the colors around us can be observed, and everything can be counted."
The program includes a website, signs and displays around town, reading lists to promote resilience, and tools to help parents bring out the best in their children. There will also be signs and posters on public transportation, displays at movie theaters and other outdoor events around the county, and at the San Diego Fair.
"Hooray for Reading" also emphasizes that parents don't need to have a dedicated time for reading with their children. This kind of informal education can happen continuously throughout the day.
"Reading, literacy, and resilience that develop with learning new skills have immediate and long lasting health benefits," explains Dr. Kelly Motadel, a Pediatrician and the County's Child Health Officer. "That includes increased cognitive function, memory, vocabulary, empathy, and decreased stress levels."
The program focuses on children under 5. By that age, the brain has already grown to 90% of its full size. Teaching kids to make the connection between words and learning is vital in those first five years.
"Every time we read, talk, and sing with little ones, we are helping with their understanding of language," Dr. Motadel says. "These connections are what are needed to be healthy, capable adults achieving their potential."
Studies show that reading can help build a stable relationship between a child and their parent. Dr. Wooten says it only takes one stable relationship with an adult to help build resilient kids.
"Resilience helps kids deal with problems, reduce aggression, and increases self-confidence," she says.
The program is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Arabic. To access the program, go to HoorayforReading.org.