Healthy Kids    

The Power of Story Time

Plus recommendations from the American Library Association

story time for kids important

Parent-child reading has been widely advocated as a way to promote cognitive development, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has made recommendations that parents begin this practice at birth. While parent-child reading has been shown in some behavioral studies to improve oral language and print concepts, quantifiable effects on the brain have not been studied until recently.

In the September 2015 issue of Pediatrics, authors studied nineteen 3- to 5-year old children in a longitudinal study to examine the relationship between brain activity and parent-child reading.  The article was titled “Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listing to Stories.”

READ MORE: Reading develops listening skills and models conversations

The children underwent a functional MRI scan for this study.  They wore headphones that allowed them to listen to age-appropriate, pre-recorded stories read in a female voice while being scanned. The results of this study demonstrated a strong, positive association between a measure of home reading environment (involving frequency of reading, access to books, and the variety of books read) and brain activation during story listening. Children who came from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in brain areas that supports visual imagery and narrative comprehension (both of these are important for reading and language).

Children who enter school with poor literacy skills are at a significant disadvantage.  It is often unlikely for them to catch up if not addressed early.  The findings from this study strongly suggest that the enhanced cognitive stimulation that comes through reading can result in improved academic achievement and even overall health.

Not sure what to read with your kids?  Check out this list of notable children’s books for 2021 from the American Library Association.

READ MORE: How to raise successful, independent readers

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