Why are books important for babies?
Because research on infant brain development tells us that a child's experience in the first three years of life directly impacts later development and learning. The baby's genetic heritage is important but equally important are the baby's surroundings, care, stimulation, and teaching.
- At birth, a baby's brain is one-quarter the size of an adult brain. By age three, it has grown to 80% of an adult brain; by age five, it has reached 90% of total development.
- Children who receive little attention from adults or have lesser opportunities to explore their world have brains which are 20 to 30 percent smaller than other children their age.
- Every baby is born with 100 billion neurons or brains cells, mostly unconnected. Connections (synapses) are created by sensory experiences in the baby's environment - hearing sounds and language, seeing, touching smelling and tasting.
- Connections or pathways that are used frequently are recognized by the brain as important and become more efficient message carriers.
- The developing brain's "neuroplasticity" - it's the ability to develop and change in response to environmental factors - makes it possible for us to compensate for future damage that might occur and for us to continue learning throughout our lives.
- The developing brain is especially tuned into language acquisition during the first three years. Children who were talked to, sung to and read to by their caregivers exhibit language skills greater than those children who received little verbal stimulation.
There is a 90% probability that a child will remain a poor reader at the end of the fourth grade if the child is a poor reader at the end of grade one.