Books help boost kids’ brain

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If you, as a parent, haven’t been reading books to your kids or engaging them in the same, it is time you start doing so. A recent research has found that engaging kids while reading books gives their brain a cognitive boost.

The study points out the fact that while reading to children has many benefits, simply speaking the words aloud may not be enough to improve cognitive development in pre-schoolers. The findings reinforce the value of “dialogic reading” where the kid is encouraged to actively participate.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) found significantly greater brain activation in four-year-old kids who were more highly engaged during story listening, suggesting a novel improvement mechanism of engagement and understanding. The study involved functional MRI scans of 22 girls, age 4, to explore the relationship between engagement and verbal interactivity during a mother-child reading observation and neural activation and connectivity during a story listening task.

Reading picture books and fiction can have a very powerful influence on children, and not only in terms of functional literacy and academic achievement. Reading can also help children develop empathy and promote their emotional well being in all sorts of ways.

As American author Anna Dewdney wrote in the Wall Street Journal: ‘By reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human. When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes. I will go further and say that that child then learns to feel the world more deeply, becoming more aware of himself and others in a way that he simply cannot experience except in our laps, or in our classrooms, or in our reading circles.’

‘When we read a book with children, then children – no matter how stressed, no matter how challenged – are drawn out of themselves to bond with other human beings, and to see and feel the experiences of others. I believe that it is this moment that makes us human. In this sense, reading makes us human,’ wrote Anna Dewdney in the journal.

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