Did you know that snuggling up for storytime is great for your child’s growing brain? Research shows when parents read to their children a difference shows up in the child’s brain and behavior. Hello, summer reading!
A recent study published by the AAP found that programs promoting what researchers called “positive parent interaction” — like reading aloud with your children — had a positive effect on disruptive behavior like aggression or hyperactivity. So what’s happening in your child’s brain when you read aloud to her?
“There are social, emotional and cognitive benefits when a parent spends time reading aloud with their child,” says Suzy Smyth, kindergarten and first grade reading intervention specialist at Cincinnati Country Day School.
“There are many cognitive benefits to reading with your child including language development, vocabulary development, pre-literacy skills, critical thinking and more.”
Reading with your child can also help improve his “social cognition,”i.e., thinking about others. And reading aloud makes kid brains active. Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital conducted a 2016 study that showed when young children are being told a story a number of regions in the left part of their brains become active. The evidence is clear that pairing YOU with your child for reading is far superior to just planting your child down with her iPad.
ENGAGE YOUR CHILD
Smyth has plenty of ideas on how to make reading a fun and engaging activity for your child. First, let your child choose her books. Research shows kids will stay engaged in things that interest them. But don’t just limit reading to books: look to magazines, signs, anything you can get your hands on and read away. Smyth says take turn reading pages, change your voice for different characters and even change locations from time to time to show that reading can happen anywhere, anytime.
Smyth also suggests if you’re reading a book about an animal, for instance, you pair that with an outing to the zoo. “Finding connections in your child’s world to the book expands their knowledge and experiences in general,” Smyth says.
You don’t have to limit yourself to bedtime stories for opportunities to read aloud together. “Finding meaningful and natural opportunities to read is key,” says Smyth. “If you are taking a trip somewhere, include your child in simple research about a particular location and related activities,” she says.
There are plenty of benefits to both parents and kids who take time each day to read together. For one, it’s one of the most pleasurable activities you can do with your child — to snuggle up, enjoy a story, laugh and experience emotions together.
This summer, aim to do a lot of out-loud reading together by having lots of books around, taking books out from the library and taking books with you wherever you go. It never hurts to get a little advanced brain activity going on!