SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- First 5 California's Commission Chair George Halvorson will appear on "The Dr. Oz Show" on Wednesday, May 25th to talk about the groundbreaking findings in his new book, Three Key Years, regarding the critical importance of talking, reading, and singing to children from birth in order to boost brain development. On the show, Halvorson and Dr. Oz will announce a new national book drive campaign, "Books Across America," created to help get books into the hands of children in need.
Halvorson, who also serves as Chair and CEO of the Institute for InterGroup Understanding, an organization dedicated to solving issues of ethnic and racial conflict and the learning gaps in American schools, reveals statistics in his book that show significant gaps in brain development between children who have the benefit of parents and caregivers who regularly interact with them verbally versus those children who are isolated in their first three years.
"Children whose brains are exercised in the first three years by parents or caregivers who talk, read and directly interact with each child have stronger brains," said Halvorson. "The brains of children who are isolated and who do not get that needed exercise in those first three years, when their brain growth is more than 80 percent completed, are at a major disadvantage. It is extremely difficult to regain that ground for those children once those first key years have passed."
Halvorson's book also indicates that high-income homes average 12 books per child, while more than half of the lowest income homes and more than half of the daycare facilities for the lowest income children, do not have any books. Halvorson illuminates additional statistics showing that adults in higher income homes read to their children more than 1,500 hours per child between birth and kindergarten, while adults in the lowest income homes read fewer than 30 hours to their children during those same years.
"We know why those gaps exist," said Halvorson. "That is why the First 5 California campaign Talk. Read. Sing.® is so important. Our goal is to reach all the moderate-and-low income parents and caregivers in California with this message. With Dr. Oz and Books Across America, we extend our reach across the U.S."
Individuals can donate to "Books Across America" by placing new and gently used books written for children age 0 to 5 in collection bins at participating The UPS Store locations nationwide from May 25 to May 31.
The books will be distributed to families participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) at various clinic locations in partnership with NWA. Scholastic, the world's largest publisher and distributer of children's books, educational, and entertaining children's media, will kick off the program by donating the first 1,000 new books to the campaign.
"Talking, reading, and singing to children helps billions of neurons inside the brain make strong connections that last a lifetime," said Halvorson. "Our goal with Books Across America is to help families and caregivers who do not readily have access to these resources to have books of their own to read to their children, and for all children to have the benefits that come from having strong interactions with a loving adult during those key years."
George C. Halvorson
George Halvorson is Commission Chair of First 5 California, a state-funded organization with a mission to create optimal health status and learning opportunities for the children of California under the age of five years. Halvorson is also Chair and CEO of the Institute for InterGroup Understanding, an organization dedicated to solving issues of ethnic and racial conflict and is focused on closing the learning gaps in American schools. Halvorson recently authored Three Key Years, a book on early childhood brain development.
SOURCE First 5 California