Tygerberg Hospital celebrated World Read Aloud Day on Wednesday February 24 to raise awareness about the benefits of reading aloud to children.
Medical staff and parents of little patients were encouraged to read to children on the day.
Linking literacy and health offered a chance for early intervention and empowerment of parents, said Dr Miemie du Preez, senior pediatric consultant at Tygerberg Hospital.
She said apart from nurturing a love for books, reading aloud helped parents and children to interact, develop a connection and have fun.
“Shared reading in the hospital keeps boredom at bay and creates an escape from suffering and illness. It nurtures imagination. I look forward to a future where parents at Tygerberg Hospital are told about the joy, fun and art of reading to their babies and children in their native language,” said Dr Du Preez.
Each child admitted to Tygerberg on the day received reading material, and doctors and nurses read aloud from 12.30pm.
“Research has shown shared reading before 18 months of age is one of the best predictors of a child’s academic success. What makes this intervention so novel is that studies have shown that the most disadvantaged children show the most gain in cognitive development and increased vocabulary, if read to regularly.
“Regular shared reading can positively change the structure of the developing brain,” said Dr Du Preez.
But she said shared reading was not possible if parents did not have access to books.
“We believe books are as important to our children’s future as breastmilk, immunisations and access to healthcare. We cannot do without them. I encourage every parent to use today as an opportunity to ignite a love for reading in their children,” said Dr Du Preez.