The study, which was published online in the journal Pediatrics today, focused on children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old to observe the relationship between brain activity and parent-child reading.
Each child's home environment was assessed based on their access to books, frequency of reading, and variety of reading material. Researchers then examined each participant's brain activity while listening to prerecorded stories during a MRI scan.
It was found that children who were brought up in more stimulating home reading environments were more responsive to narrative comprehension and visual imagery, which is important for language and reading skills. The authors note that children with strong literacy skills will be better prepared for school and are more likely to keep pace with their peers compared to those with poor skills. The study's findings correspond with a policy statement released by the AAP in 2014.
"Reading is stimulating to children on multiple levels, both cognitively (i.e. story content) and emotionally (feelings, empathy, the bond of sitting on a parent's lap). This goes both ways, with children feeling entertained, enchanted, and loved, and parents also share in this experience," study author John S. Hutton, M.D., told Parents.com. "Parents (and children) who have enjoyed reading together will recall fondly these moments, which are unfortunately threatened by screen-based platforms such as videos and apps which tend to outsource the parent's role to the device."
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Mother reading to boys via Shutterstock