Study Shows Reading to Children has Positive Effect on the Developing Brain

A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), showed children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in brain areas supporting narrative comprehension and visual imagery.

The authors studied 3- to 5-year old children to examine the relationship between shared parent-child reading and brain activity. Participants underwent an MRI scan while listening to pre-recorded stories read in a female voice through headphones. Results showed a strong association between a measure of home reading environment (involving access to books, frequency of reading, and variety of books read) and brain activation during story listening.

Children who enter kindergarten with poor emergent literacy skills are unlikely to catch up with their peers if not addressed early. The authors hope that these findings will help guide early interventions, resulting in improved academic achievement and health.

Encourage reading in your home. To help keep reading fun and enjoyable, check out these simple tips:

  • Read to your child every day. You can read to babies even before they can talk. Let your child see and touch the book. Point out important features, as well as fun textures, shapes and colors in the book.


  • Play with voices and the sounds of words. This can be fun, especially when different characters are involved.


  • Set aside a family reading area and/or a family reading time. Encourage children to look at books on their own. Take your family to the library and make a fun day out of it.


  • Sing with your child. Try songs with rhymes and word play. Make up a rhyming game, for example – What words sound like “ball?”


  • Use everyday tasks to encourage reading. While grocery shopping, have your kids help you search for specific names of products. While cooking, have your kids help read a recipe out loud. Try this on a road trip with signs and brands of cars, too.


  • Model positive reading behavior. Let kids see you reading. They are more likely to read if they see you read. Encourage writing, too. Try fun writing tools such as chalk, markers and crayons. Related posts:

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