From listening to learning to mental health, reading to kids has many proven benefits

Studies show that reading to children helps their brain develop, gives them a leg-up in school and contributes to their overall well-being. That's why we're celebrating Read Across America Day on March 2. 

The CEO of the non-profit Reach Out and Read, Marty Martinez helps incorporate books into the lives of families through pediatric care.

Martinez said 80% of a child’s brain is formed between birth and age 3. Because of that, reading to kids is vital to building a foundation for learning. He said incorporating reading into the role of pediatricians drives home the importance of books at home.

Reading to kids also helps children with language interactions later in life. Martinez said they will have better recognition of sounds and letters and understand a wider variety of vocabulary. They will also have a better understanding of how stories and storytelling work.

Finally, reading to kids can help with long term mental health, Martinez said. Children who are read to as kids have better self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression. Daily reading also strengthens the bond between a parent and a child, increasing listening and communication skills.

For more information about Reach Out and Read and Read Across America Day, visit