A Word About Reading
The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children
While you’ve probably heard reading to the children in your life is important, you may be surprised to learn how important reading out loud is to a child’s brain development. The science behind the research is nothing short of amazing. Simply put, reading out loud to young children builds a better brain.
Exciting work lead by Dr. Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington shows that a baby’s brain creates new pathways when exposed to highly social early language learning. In other words, years before a baby is ready to read, nurturing experiences along with the deliberate use of language, like talking, singing, storytelling and reading, develop an early pathway in the brain for literacy.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends parents read aloud to children every day and start early with babies as young as six months of age (2014). In short, children who are routinely and consistently read to thrive (AAP, 2014; Cunningham, 2013; Needlman, 2006; 2014; Bernstein, 2010; Senechal & LeFevere, 2002). While children with less exposure to books and talk may face learning challenges in school and beyond (AAP, 2014; Dickinson, McCabe, & Essex, 2006; Neuman & Celano, 2012).
Reading and vocabulary skills go hand in hand. Reading increases vocabulary skills (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013; Kuhn, et. al, 2006; Allington, 2012; 2009; Baumann, 2009), and strong vocabulary skills make it easier for children to read on their own (Wong Fillmore, 2014; Tannenbaum, Torgeson and Wagner, 2006). Learning new words is incredibly important because it leads to greater reading comprehension (Duke & Carlisle, 2011; Baumann, 2009; Wagner, Muse & Tannenbaum, 2007). And as a child improves their vocabulary so too will they increase comprehension and reading performance (Elleman, Lindo, & Compton, 2009; cited by Neuman & Taylor, 2013).
Reading out loud is incredibly important to your child’s brain development. Babies learn language best when it is highly social. Reading with your baby is an excellent way to build language acquisition skills. Experts agree that fifteen to twenty minutes a day with you, your little one, and a book can set the right course for a lifetime of learning. Reading together will help build a better vocabulary that in turn helps your child understand what they read and eventually read independently. So if you want to build a better brain for your child, begin by opening a book together.