wow mammal mama - I guess i got you really upset. I'm sorry...
I seriously can't comprehend a kid that doesn't like books. I've seriously never met one unless there were also other issues like hyper activity due to watching too much tv, eating sugar etc. Not to say they don't exist, just sharing my experiences with working with many children over the years.
While I do think following a child's lead is good in some ways - we lean toward unschooling around here - I also think parents know what is best for a child in many ways too. I suggested introducing reading at 1 wk old or so because if it's introduced early enough then kids develop that attn span as they develop. They aren't suddenly introduced to books and not intersted because books have been a part of their lives from almost day 1. I don't suggest it because I'm afraid my child won't be literate if she's not read to. Like other pp's have said - literacy is due to more than just one factor.
In our home, books are like treasures. We love them. We have a lot of them. We are very choosy about them and we are always collecting more. They are a huge part of our lives. In addition to unschooling I'm also very into Charlotte Mason whose educational premise was learning (in addition to from real life exper etc) largely from what she called "real" books - not textbooks. Part of what we do with our 3 yr old for her homeschool preschool is she picks a topic of her choice and then we get out books from the library on it. So far we have done squirrels and beavers. Many of the books are fictionalized stories. Some are informational. All help you learn about that animal. She loves animals.
In fairness, dd was a *very* aware newborn who would be awake for hours at a time and then sleep longer than normal stretches. She always wanted to be seeing things - so showing her books and talking about them was great for her even very young. Others might want to wait til their baby is past that sleepy newborn age and more alert.
We also sing songs, tell stories, learn from real life a lot - but books hold a very special place in our home. When I read the original article, I think I read it wrong in a hurry - thinking of all the kids whose parents NEVER read to them. Reading a few hrs on weekends as opposed to a few minutes per day seems fine to me as well. And yes, studies do show that seeing a parent read is even more important than reading to a child. I just can't imagine not reading to my child. Her vocab is astounding for her age and often I have to try and think where she learned a word and it dawns on me that she heard it once or twice in a book and that's it. Yes one can learn vocab in other places - obviously - but reading is a big aid too.
And of course older kids who can read to themselves may not have parents reading to them at all. I don't think my mom read to us much past when we could read ourselves.
To me, I don't see early reading as "Oh oh - the kid is going to be dumb if I don't read to them". I see it as book are such a huge precious treasure and thus something I want to be a part of my child's life. She can learn thru them; her imagination is stimulated; there are whole other magical places to be explored - some real and some not; vocabulary is formed; critical thinking is developed; but beyond all that they are just this fun, treasure; all other things being ancillary. I love getting lost in a book, in the photos, in the beautiful prose, in the poetry, in the story, in the colorful development of characters, the mystery, the romance. I love books. I want to share that love with my child - and yes, it's sad to me that some children don't get that.
As for the educational benefit - kids who can read well definitely do better in school and often even in many jobs because so many jobs require the ability to work well with written communication. My husband holds a high management position and it's torture and slow for him to wade thru all of the stuff he has to read. College is so much easier if one can read well also. But at a young age, the benefits are not so important as the fact that reading is just plain fun!!
Here is what we did for that stage when babies grab books and put them in the mouth. If we were reading, we just moved the book over and said no even if she objected. She realized after once or twice that she couldn't have it when we were reading (she didn't cry -just sort of verbally object for a second "ah... ah" sort of thing). When she played with the books herself, she learned really fast "books are for looking at see the doggie. woof woof" as we took the book from her mouth. Then we'd tell her as it went back to the mouth
"books in the mouth go bye bye. look at the doggie" and redirect her again. If she put it in her mouth we gently took it and put it up higher bye bye. It was so funny! She'd put it in her mouth - look at me and hand it to me. Then she'd try another book almost like a game. After a min or so she'd tire of it and go on and look at some other books w/o putting them in the mouth.
Anyway, these are ideas for people who really love books and thus want to intro them to their kids - not for making people paranoid that if they don't intro them at 1 wk old their kid will be dumb. I think the most important thing is that children learn to love books sooner or later whether by seeing parents read all the time or by being read to til they can read themselves. I do think books are important educationally tho as kids grow older. Certainly tho I see no harm in introducing them younger and I think seriously that some kids never learn to like books because they aren't read to and don't see parents reading. I think why wait to intro them? They are such a fun thing to share!!