By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new study in The Journal of Pediatrics claims that reading aloud to children may have a huge impact on how well they pay attention.

Pediatricians recommend parents read to their children from birth because it can help their cognitive, language and social-emotional development.

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Eugena Sanchez has been reading to her daughters since they were babies and at almost three and six years old, it’s one of their favorite activities.

A new study in pediatrics says reading out loud to young children as well as engaging in pretend play can improve behavior problems related to hyperactivity and attention when they get to school.

They are better able to sit still and better able to get along with friends or peers and teachers,  Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, the study’s author, said.

Researchers looked at children from birth to three years old in a program that coached parents on reading and playing, then followed the children after the program.

“When parents provide children with the opportunity to kind of think about their feelings and those characters, it helps them to practice for when they’re actually dealing with those feelings when they enter school,” Dr. Mendelsohn said.

Sanchez reads to her children in both Spanish and English and she says she’s already noticed the benefits, especially with her youngest.

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“I see other kids the same age and they don’t talk as much as she does,” Sanchez said about her daughter.

The researchers say parents should point out pictures and ask questions when reading stories.

Other studies have shown that reading out loud to children also strengthens the bond between parents and children.

Researchers looked at video recordings of parents who read to their kids from birth through age three.

They found that those children had fewer attention problems once they entered elementary school.

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