Building brains with books

Published On 10/19/2016

by Jason Yaun, MD

I am grateful that my parents and teachers instilled a passion for reading in me. As a child, I would read everything I could get my hands on. I remember hiding under the covers late at night reading the Hardy Boys series with a flashlight.

Now, as a father, I love reading to my kids because I know I am passing on that love for reading while bonding with them and developing a lifetime of memories.

As a pediatrician, reading is important to me because every child needs a strong start to succeed and thrive. A strong educational foundation is vital to establishing a pathway for a lifetime of health and wellness.


All parents want the best for their children, and exposure to books and language beginning at birth is an important way to build brains, communication skills and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime. A strong body of research shows that reading to children from birth and exposing them to books increases vocabulary scores, enjoyment of reading and kindergarten readiness.

At Le Bonheur, we want kids to develop into strong, healthy and smart adults. That’s why we put books in the hands of children through participation in Reach Out and Read, a national literacy program that gives books to children at doctor appointments and promotes reading aloud daily to children. Pediatricians have early and frequent contact with young children and families, making the doctor’s office an ideal place to discuss the importance of reading aloud daily.

Giving an infant a book introduces pre-literacy skills such as how to hold a book, how to manipulate pages and how to follow a story. For older children a book opens their imagination to worlds unseen that they might not otherwise know, while giving them the skills they need to progress to readers.

Promoting early literacy has a powerful effect on families and children that improves their home environment, their language skills and parent-child relationships during the crucial time of early brain development.

It takes a community to help children grow and thrive. When you support Le Bonheur, you’re partnering with us to help kids and families be the best they can be.

Jason Yaun, MD is a general pediatrician with Le Bonheur Pediatrics and associate professor with The University of Tennessee Health Science Center.