Jun 23, 2017

Study: Reading to Newborns Helps Improve Literacy and Language Skills

Guest Post By Kelsey Rausch

It can be hard at the end of the day to read yet another book to your young child when trying to lull them to sleep. However, a new study has shown that your efforts may not be for naught, as your child is able to absorb everything you are saying when reading.

We've known for a long time that reading aloud to children from a young age can stimulate their brain development, yet unfortunately, only half of all children are routinely read to by their parents. Hopefully, this new study will be able to inspire parents that those children books are doing a whole world of change and can help their infant's literary skills from day one.

New research, presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in the U.K last week, showed that reading books is able to boost vocabulary and reading skills for years before they start kindergarten. For the study, researchers monitored 250 pairs of mothers and children for around four and a half years, from birth until kindergarten.

Their goal was to determine how well children understood words as they developed along with the strength of their literacy skills before they entered kindergarten. To determine the quality of the book reading, the researchers asked the parents a couple of questions including:

  1. If the parent had a conversation with the child about what they read in the book.
  2. Whether the book was age appropriate.
  3. To explain if the emotions of the characters were understood by the child.
  4. If the children interacted with the pictures on the page.

On top of these questions, the researchers adjusted their findings for socio-economic differences and found that the children who were read a variety of books in infancy would have accelerated literacy and language skills come kindergarten.

All in all, there were two major findings in the study. The first, book reading during early infancy was able to accurately predict strong reading skills earlier than their peers who were not read to. Additionally, the number of books read during the toddler years is tied to more highly developed literacy skills, such as writing the alphabet by four years old, The Independent reports.

These findings justify the idea that for their first eight years, a child is naturally acquiring language skills. A child learns primarily through imitation, repetition, songs, and games, and reading books from a couple months old is the first way for them to gain exposure to different words their parents may not have introduced yet.

So, the next time you may feel overwhelmed getting your child to sleep, crack open a book and see how this special time with your child will boast long-lasting effects.

Kelsey Rausch is a writer and an avid world traveler. When she's not writing or listening to 80s music, you can find her exploring different countries, taking selfies with her dog Lady, and in constant search for the perfect brownie recipe.

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