In an age when technology is increasingly used to entertain and even teach young children, the bedtime story holds more than technology can offer. Reading a bedtime story to your child is far more beneficial than you may think.
Research has shown that early shared reading helps children’s reading ability and language development. The bedtime story has been around for generations and is something that both parents and children look forward to at the end of a long and tiring day. In this guest post, Chartered Psychologist Dot Blakemore explains the benefits of reading to your children.
There are even more benefits to reading a bedtime story to your child, the bond between you and your child is strengthened, your child’s vocabulary extends, their imagination is awakened and their social skills are developed. Along with the acquisition of language skills, there is evidence to suggest a child’s cognitive ability is also strengthened.
Shared book reading was first investigated in 1983 by Nino who suggested that reading stories to children is like a vocabulary acquisition device. Research has shown that children who start school with a larger vocabulary have a distinct advantage. Biemiller, 2001, found vocabulary is the best predictor of later reading comprehension. Whitehurst and Lonigan conducted a longitudinal study and found there is an association between reading comprehension at age seven and book reading in the home between the ages of one and three years. .
Many people think there is no point to reading stories to babies younger than one year old or so as they do not have language skills. However, reading to very young babies is good for their development as they will increase their expressive language score earlier than those who do not have the benefit of hearing stories. This is shown in research by Karrass & Braungart-Rieker which found children who are as young as 8 months old will benefit from being read a story They also found that reading to infants at an early age is more likely to increase parents sensitivity to their child and their developing language and specific vocabulary.
The cognitive development of children is also improved by reading a bedtime story as shown by neural research. G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D shows that when parents and caregivers interact verbally with children — which includes reading to them — they learn a great deal more than ever thought possible. These gains range from improved logic skills to lower stress levels. But perhaps the most profound benefit discovered in recent years is the way bedtime stories can rewire children’s brains to quicken their mastery of language.
Do you read with your children? Do you see any benefits to reading to young children? Did you read to your baby?