In an effort to aid parents, families, and pediatricians close the “word gap” that exists among American children, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is helping the American Academy of Pediatrics unveil the Books Build Connections Toolkit. Speaking at the 2014 AAP National Convention and Exhibition in San Diego this week, Mrs. Clinton introduced the early literacy toolkit to promote verbal development in young children.  Morgan Lee reports the former First Lady supports the AAP’s stance of no electronic devices like iPads for children under the age of two while also promoting the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail program:

“Now technology is of course changing how Americans read and in many ways it is opening up exciting new avenues for learning,” Clinton said. “We don’t have enough research, but I think what we are learning is that the earliest years before a child is 2, televisions, iPads and screens are no substitute for actual parent-child interactions like talking, reading and singing.”

The academy has joined forces on literacy development with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, the California-based policy group on Climate change and childhood issues. Their initiative, dubbed “Too Small to Fail,” responds to a growing body of research highlighting language sensitivity starting in infancy.


Included in the toolkit are eight family resources containing age-specific ideas and recommendations for all pediatric age groups. “The Secret to a Smarter Baby” is revealed not to be technological and academic, but rather simple, positive parent-child interactions:

As parents, we all want happy, healthy babies. Not only that, we want them to be smart. For anyone entering parenthood today, this desire seems to translate into a trip to the toy store and a big dent in the family budget. The truth is that you don’t need any make-your-baby-brilliant products that line store shelves these days. You don’t need to spend a penny to help your baby be smarter.

That’s right. Despite the hype and the ads, we’re not buying it. There just isn’t convincing scientific evidence that these expertly marketed, hi-tech baby toys, with all of their bells and whistles, lead to more advanced brain development.

As you think about what kinds of activities will support your baby’s early learning, you can start by remembering that the real baby Mozart never had a CD, a DVD, or an iPad! What, then, is the secret to a smarter baby? The answer is, above all else, the loving interactions that you (and your baby’s other caregivers) will share with your baby over the upcoming days, weeks, and months. Perhaps the most important message is that you don’t need to put too much pressure on yourself when considering what to do with your baby. The best types of activities are simple.


Perhaps the most important resource for parents in the whole toolkit is “Finding the Right Book for Every Child.”  This page provides examples of books sorted by age, developmental level, and topics such as adoption, death and dying, nutrition, where do babies come from?, potty training, medical conditions, and more.

This would be a great page to bookmark!