Parents: In case you didn’t know, October is #NationalBookMonth and we’re celebrating by outlining important reasons why you should read to your kid and toss aside that TV remote.
In addition to exposing your child to rich language, “reading with your children helps prepare their minds to succeed in school.”
Interested in learning more about the relationship between reading and increased brain activity in your kid? Keep reading to find out why investing early on in your kid’s literacy helps with many areas of their life.
Scientifically-Backed Reasons You Should Read to Your Kid
Pediatricians have been encouraging parents to read aloud to their kids, but now there’s research that supports that doing so also improves brain function in kids.
In the study — Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listening to Stories — conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, researchers examined the relationship between parent-child reading and brain activity.
What did the researchers find?
“We are excited to show, for the first time, that reading exposure during the critical stage of development prior to kindergarten seems to have a meaningful, measurable impact on how a child’s brain processes stories and may help predict reading success,” said study author John Hutton. “Of particular importance are brain areas supporting mental imagery, helping the child ‘see the story’ beyond the pictures, affirming the invaluable role of imagination.”
In preschool children listening to stories, greater home reading exposure is positively associated with activation of brain areas supporting mental imagery and narrative comprehension, controlling for household income. These neural biomarkers may help inform eco-bio-developmental models of emergent literacy.
Improves Cognitive Function
Reading aloud to your kid prior to kindergarten is also linked to improved cognitive function.
The study found that the changes caused by reading a novel were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the primary sensorimotor region of the brain.
Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded, or embodied cognition.
“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” says neuroscientist Gregory Berns, the study’s lead author. “We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”
Reading Linked to Lower Stress Levels
Another study carried out by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex also found that reading silently for six minutes slows down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. Interesting fact: it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started!
“Reading for pleasure in general can also help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia,” says Wilkinson. “Research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers.”
In addition to helping to expand your kid’s vocabulary and lowering stress levels, reading to your kid at an early can instill in them a lifelong love of reading. And who is opposed to that?
Do you read to your kid? If so, how many times a week and for how long? Share your answer with us in the comment section!