Brainy benefits of reading to your kids
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics creating a “stimulating home reading environment” is the key to increasing brain activity.
A stimulating home reading environment for preschoolers is one which includes not only access to books, but has a variety of titles and has kids being read to more frequently, according to researchers.
During the study, when children underwent a functional MRI while being read to aloud to via headphones. Those from a stimulating home reading environment had more brain activity in the areas which help extract the meaning of words. They also had “particularly robust” activity in the part of the brain where mental images are formed.
“It’s often said that reading builds brains,” said Dr. John Hutton, the study leader. “That seems obvious, but you want to show that it’s actually true.”
While the theory that reading benefits brain development has been assumed for years, the study was the first-of-its-kind to offer definitive evidence that reading actually increases brain activity.
Parents who take the time to build language skills with their children are building a foundation for their child to succeed in school, says Marjorie Getz, a learning and behavior specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips for parents to help their children enjoy reading aloud:
- Read to your child every day, even if only for a few minutes. It is your time together.
- Make reading fun. You don’t have to finish a story if your child loses interest.
- Let your child choose the book even if it means reading the same book over and over again.
- Invite your child to “read” to you from a familiar book that he/she has memorized from.
- Stop and ask about the illustrations or what your child thinks will happen next. The answers may amaze you.
- Read from a variety of children’s books, including fairy tales, poetry, and nursery rhymes.
- Follow your child’s interests in choosing the books. There are many great books on non-fiction subjects such as the ocean or dogs.
- Join your local library.
“Talking and reading to children is so important,” Getz says. “I love to walk into a home and see books everywhere and children and parents talking about books.”
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