Reading to You Kids – Benefit Number Two is boosting biological brain power.
By Eileen Brown
The study we are reporting on today was completed just over a year ago but is such an important part of understanding that reading to kids at an early age, even when the child is still considered a baby, will have a biological effect on their cognitive and learning abilities that it is relevant to pass along this information now and into the future.
Activating an important part of a child’s brain.
A brain scan study from 2015 relates that reading to babies (or very young children) often activates the part of the brain that allows understanding the meaning of language, mental imagery and narrative.
The study, published August 10, 2015 in Pediatrics, looked at the brains of 3 to 5 years old children utilizing MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in order to see how their brains responded when faced with different types of stimulation. While a recording of a woman reading stories played (and other recordings of background noise), factual, scientific proof has now been provided, that reading to babies has an impact that earlier studies, through observation, were correct in their assertions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, (the publisher of Pediatrics) has long been an advocate of the importance of reading at home throughout infancy and early childhood. Their argument has been that it can and does improve language skills, fosters literacy development and helps with other less tangible qualities. “Parents who spend time and effort reading to their children do create nurturing relationships, which is important for a child’s cognitive, language and socio-emotional development,” the AAP has stated.
Priming Developing Brains
The study further shows that while it was thought, through empirical studies that very early “reading to babies” or “reading to children of a very early age” gave children a definite advantage, we now have proof of biological changes to brain function.
The research team also gathered information about the children’s home “reading of stories” environment by querying things like how frequently the parents read to the child and if the reading materials they were exposed to were an assortment (variety) of books.
The MRI studies revealed that children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in the parts of the brain that aid in narrative comprehension and visual representation of imagery. The children’s brains showed greater activity in those key areas while they listened to the stories being read.
Director of the division of general and community pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Dr Thomas DeWitt stated “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,” DeWitt said. “It’s biological evidence that transcends empirical studies.”
“For parents, it adds credence to the idea of reading with kids,” says study author John S. Hutton, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “Getting a peek into the brain, there seems to be some differences there that are pretty exciting.”
The Positive Effects of Reading To Young Children
The study adds to past research showing that reading has many positive effects on young children. Like teaching the rules of syntax, expanding children’s vocabulary and helping children bond with their parents, Hutton says. But the new study is among the first to add real understanding of what actually happens to young brains.
Something that many parents fundamentally understood: It can only be a good thing to read stories to babies and young children. Now there is hard evidence of the biological benefits of reading to kids.
Science has now proven that reading to kids does change their brains – for the better.
Eileen Brown is a web developer, web consultant and content writer. She has written hundreds of articles across the web for software development companies, software distributors and articles for a wide variety of industries on the web. She is the editor at Biz News Buddy. As an avid reader, a mother and grand-mother, reading and parenting has been a life long interest.