Science Proves Reading With Kids Affects Brain Development
By Dawn D. Perry, M.A.
Manager, Family Child Care Quality Network
Children’s Council of San Francisco
When my children were young, I didn’t realize how important those bedtime cuddles with storybooks about Green Eggs & Ham and “Wild Things” really were. As more research about brain development has been shared, it is clear that reading with young children has a significant impact on their language and literacy development.
Reading with children, including young infants, results in increased vocabularies, enhanced communication skills and better social skills. Children who are read to regularly become better readers themselves and are more successful in school.
Here at Children’s Council, we support families and child care providers in so many ways, but one important resource is our Lending Library, which offers books and toys for children of all ages. Any child or family who visits us at Children’s Council receives a free book to keep! Learn more about our Lending Library and other community resources for parents.
I recently came across this terrific article on the Huffington Post about this fascinating topic. Dr. Thomas DeWitt, director of the division of general and community pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital states, “This is a small and very early study, but the exciting thing it was able to demonstrate is that early reading does have an impact on the parts of the brain that are fundamental for developing literacy early on.”
Reading with young children should be fun for both you and your child, even if it is the hundredth time of Goodnight Moon! Here are some of my personal suggestions:
Infants and Toddlers
- Choose books with bright colors, large pictures and simple text or no text. Along with reading the story, talk about the pictures and what the characters are doing.
- Use funny voices or inflections to keep the baby’s interest. Pop-up or “touch books” are great for interactive reading.
- Make your own book with photos of familiar objects. Include photos of family members, pets or even the child’s toys.
- Ask your child questions about the story, to make predictions of what will happen next or why a character did something. Ask your child if she or he has had a similar experience.
- Encourage your child to ask questions too. It isn’t important to read a story straight through. Talking is also crucial to language and brain development.
- Let your child turn pages, point out words and pictures or follow the text with their finger. These are fine motor skills related to reading.
Most importantly, enjoy this special time with your child! Set aside at least 10–15 minutes of reading time together each day. Your child will see that you value books and reading.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a date with my one- and four-year-old grandsons and A Little Engine that Could.