Read to Your Kids. They WILL Be SmarterAll parents want their children to be smart, and it appears there is at least one way you can help make that happen: Read to them. A lot. Preschool-age children who regularly hear stories read to them have far better language skills than kids who don't hear stories. Specifically, they show more activity in areas of the brain that are linked to word meanings and imagination, HealthDay News reports of research from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.
"It's often said that reading builds brains," study leader Dr. John Hutton told HealthDay News. "That seems obvious, but you want to show that it's actually true."
The study: The Cincinnati team used functional MRI scans to measure real-time brain activity in 19 children, ages 3 to 5 years, as the children listened to stories and to sounds other than speech.
In addition, the parents of the 19 kids were interviewed about "cognitive stimulation" activities at home, including how often they read books to their children. The answers ranged from two nights a week to every night.
The results: The children who had the most story time at home also had more brain activity while they were listening to stories in the research lab. The difference was especially noticeable in the area of the brain that is involved in semantic processing, that is the ability to extract meaning from words. The brains of the kids who were read to the most, showed "particularly robust" activity where mental images are formed from what is heard, according to the researchers.
So what? "When children listen to stories, they have to put it all together in their mind's eye," Hutton explained, adding that it sparks their imaginations in a way that is far different than watching a story on TV or a computer screen.
Even more important, story time is also cuddle time. "It's not just a nice thing to do with your child," Hutton told HealthDay News. "It's important to their cognitive, social and emotional development."
The study findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.