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:

Helping Kids Learn to Share

Cara KrennCara Krenn is a writer, editor, and mom to fraternal twin girls and a singleton boy. She is the author of the e-book Twinthusiasm: Survival Lessons for Your First Year Raising Twins and blogs at

As a mother of twins, I’ve experienced plenty of squabbles over belongings. “MINE!” is one of the first words toddlers latch onto, and sharing can be hard for little ones who don’t yet understand empathy. However, teaching your kids how to share is an important life skill. Here are a few tips that can help the process:

Talk to your kids about sharing in advance. Before a play date or party, talk to them about sharing their toys. Set expectations for sharing in your own home, reminding your kids to take turns with their friends.

Make special items “off limits.” With your child’s help, designate a few personal items that don’t have to be shared with siblings or other children, such as a beloved stuffed animal or blanket. My children are required to share almost everything, but it helps that each child can have their own special possessions just for them.

Don’t force it. Wrestling a toy from a child’s grip for forced sharing is probably counterproductive. Work with your child’s age and development level to encourage sharing that generates from their initiation.

Use a timer for turns. Make a kitchen timer or stopwatch your referee when kids argue over specific toys. Explain that everyone gets a turn for the same amount of time. Fairness is important to kids.

Play games. At home, play family games that involve taking turns, such as board games, card games, or your own made-up game where everyone gets a chance to have fun.

Praise sharing and emphasize how good it makes kids feel. When your child shares with another child, praise their good behavior and remind them how it makes them feel good to make others feel good. “Do unto others” is a great lesson to impart as early as possible.

Model sharing behavior. Be a good role model and show your kids how you share and give back to others. Point out sharing examples when you see them and discuss them with your kids.

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