Early Literacy Resources

In Canada, 42% of Canadians 16-65 years of age do not have the minimum literacy skills required for coping with everyday life and work (the skill level typically required for completion of high school in Canada)1. Literacy influences health in direct and indirect ways, and Health Canada identifies literacy as a major determinant of health1.

Research suggests that children who are exposed to high quality parent-child language activities in their homes, beginning with book exposure in their infant years, have stronger literacy, language and social-emotional skills throughout their childhoods and reap the benefits of these early skills throughout their lives1,2.  Research also suggests that children who live in middle and upper class homes hear an average of 30 million more words in their first three years of life than their lower-class counterparts hear3 .

The importance of encouraging literacy at a young age is evident as most children who are unable to read by the end of grade 3 will never catch up, resulting in an increased likelihood of dropping out of school and living in poverty4

Family physicians are in a unique position to encourage early literacy in homes with young children. As family physicians see their young patients and guardians throughout the early years of their lives, they are able to intervene and promote early literacy. Current literature out of the United States focusing on the Reach Out and Read model for clinic-based literacy intervention suggests that parents place more importance on reading to their children when a book is given to them by their children’s physician, while parents who receive books from their children’s physician are four to 10 times more likely to read to their children frequently5,6

Recognizing the important role early literacy plays in the development of children and the role that physicians can play in promoting early literacy, the OCFP, with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, conducted a scan of the current literature around early literacy. An annotated bibliography was produced, highlighting key findings from research pertaining to early literacy and emotional development, early literacy and poverty, the physician's role in early literacy and environmental scans of child poverty in Canada and Ontario.

The annotated bibliography can be found below, along with other early literacy resources.

Information and Resources

References

  1. Shaw, A. (2006). Read, speak, sing: Promoting literacy in the physician’s office. Paediatric Child
    Health,
    11(9), 601-606 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  2. Baker, C. (2013). Fathers’ and Mothers’ Home Literacy Involvement and Children’s Cognitive
    and Social Emotional Development: Implications for Family Literacy Programs. Applied
    Developmental Science
    , 17(4), 184-197 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  3. Hart, B., & Risley, T. (1995). The Early Catastrophe. American Educator, 27(1), 4-9 [Journal
    Article]
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics, Department of Community Pediatrics in Shaw, A. (2006).
    Read, speak, sing: Promoting literacy in the physician’s office. Paediatric Child Health,
    11(9), 601-606 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  5. Needlman, R & Silverstein, M in Shaw, A. (2006). Read, speak, sing: Promoting literacy in the
    physician’s office. Paediatric Child Health, 11(9), 601-606 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  6. Young, K., Davis, K., Schoen, C. & Parker, S in Read, speak, sing: Promoting literacy in the
    physician’s office. Paediatric Child Health, 11(9), 601-606 [Peer Reviewed Journal]