If you spend your evenings cooped up in a single bed, reading the same stories over and over (and over) again, you might be pleased to hear that science thinks you’re doing a good job.
It's already understood that reading to children could improve literacy and help with learning to talk.
But now scientists have proven it can actually alter how the brain functions at a biological level.
So when you're reading that same story for the twentieth time tonight, you can tell yourself you're altering your kid's brain for the better. Even though it may at times feel like your own brain function is being impaired.
It might not make it less tedious, but at least you'll know your efforts aren't in vain.
Reading To Children At Home Improves Brain Activity
The new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that routinely reading to children at home improved brain activity. Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine brain activity in young children. Nineteen children aged between three and five years of age participated in the study.
Researchers scanned the participants’ brains as they listened to both a recording of a woman reading a story and a sample of background noise. The brain scans were then compared to see how the children responded to the different stimulus. Parents were also asked to answer some questions about how frequently they read to their children, and the different types of books they read.
Researchers found that the children with more stimulating home reading environments showed greater levels of brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for narrative comprehension and visual imagery. These areas of the brain play an important role in the development of literacy in early childhood.
Why This Information Is Important
The researchers hope that the results of the study will encourage parents to start reading early and often to their children. This was only a small study, so the test will need to be repeated with a larger sample size to give a clearer idea of the impact reading has on brain function. It is also not yet clear whether it makes a difference if the reader is a parent or a teacher.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are read to during infancy and early childhood tend to have better language skills when they start school. They also show more of an interest in reading. It's believed that setting aside time each day to read to your children can help you to build a strong bond.
Joining a library is a great way of ensuring that your child is exposed to a variety of books. Some parents choose to include a library visit as part of their regular routine, allowing the child to pick out books of interest. Children’s books can also be picked up cheaply at charity shops and thrift stores, as well as second hand book stores.
Check out BellyBelly’s tips for how to encourage language development in toddlers and babies.