The Book Nook
by Natalia Golova,M.D.
Natalia Golova M.D.
oard member and an attending physician at
Hasbro Children's Hospital Pediatric Primary Care Clinic
where she has been practicing general pediatrics for the past 20 years and supervising residents and medical students.
grew up in Argentina and has raised her 3 children in a bilingual household. Early childhood literacy has been an area of interest for her for many years. In 1997 she published one of the first randomized controlled research studies on the topic of literacy promotion with Hispanic families in the pediatric primary care setting. We are incredibly lucky to have her enthusiasm, expertise and passion for literacy promotion as part of the
One of my fondest memories of raising three young kids was that moment of the day when my husband and I would get them ready for bed. After dinner and baths with wet hair and footed pajamas, it was story time! Along with the chaos, the tiredness and the bargaining for more awake time, there was that precious moment of getting under the soft, fuzzy covers (finally!) and getting to read a few bedtime stories.
Despite a fairly wide selection of books that grew together with our family, my kids quickly developed a liking for a particular book, that we would read over and over and over again. Luckily, most of the time, it ended up being a story that I also enjoyed reading to them over and over again, to the point of memorizing the rhymes and knowing what the next page would say.
What was so beautiful about those precious moments? The c
loseness and the connection I felt with my kids: the bond. That's why the title to the AAP literacy toolkit that was recently released, says, "Books build connections". It is absolutely true on so many levels.
RORRI Board member Natalia Golova M.D., pictured on vacation in Kauai with her three children
Books build neuronal connections in the young brain. By listening to stories, children are exposed to new words and a more sophisticated language t
han the spoken word. They also learn the rules of print, such as reading from left to right and top to bottom. In our case, I'd read to my kids in two different languages, and we'd laugh together when mixing them up. When reading
stories in Spanish, I felt that I was connecting them to their heritage, to their grandmas, uncles and cousins; and ultimately to me. Again, I felt connected through our language.
As soon as they could, those soft little hands loved to turn the pages, one by one (it was so hard at first!) and hold the book themselves. Later on, when learning to read, placing that small finger under each word would help them stay still, instead of jumping around on the page. They would sound out the letters one by one, until finally, they could read! Every night was a discovery; something new, unraveling in front of our eyes.
Reading stories together also helps build emotional connections. While lying in bed side by side or when holding my baby on my lap, wrapped in my arms, I felt an incredible bond. It was a soothing moment, not just for my kids, but also for me. After a very busy day of work, while juggling the role of being a young professional and a young mom, life felt quite stressful at times. Reading bedtime stories every night was a cherished moment, maybe as much for me as for my kids. It gave me the peacefulness I needed to sleep like a baby.
Books also open up a child's imagination, letting them fly as far and as high as they can go. I remember reading some stories that would help my children role-play some of their fears and anxieties, and when talking about them, I could help them deal with their worries in more productive ways. A small window into what and how they were thinking opened up, giving me a chance to get to know my kids better and feel a deeper connection.
After all, what is life without connections?