First Book has a gorgeous new video out that speaks to the power of books in combating poverty and making sure that parents are their child’s first teacher:
Public Radio International has the news of a new study that reveals yet another reason that reading is important for children. The study done at University of California Riverside shows that the text of children’s books contains “substantially more unique words than ordinary parent-child conversation.”
Transcripts of conversations were compared with text from a hundred children’s picture books, largely compiled from book lists from teachers and librarians, Amazon and the most popular books at the local public library.
The difference is incredible, with 70% more unique words in books than in speech.
The next step in the study of text vs. speech will be focused on sentence-level differences.
Researchers have conducted MRIs to prove that reading to children sparks changes in their brains. Specifically, reading aloud to preschoolers helps with “mental imagery and understanding narrative” which are both keys to emerging literacy.
Researchers looked at the brains of 19 3-5 year olds using MRI, scanning their brains while they listened to recordings of stories being read aloud. The results showed that children who were from homes where there was more reading had greater activity in the key brain areas than children who did not.
"This is a small and very early study, but the exciting thing it was able to demonstrate is that early reading does have an impact on the parts of the brain that are fundamental for developing literacy early on," DeWitt said. "It’s biological evidence that transcends empirical studies.
The Reading Agency, a nonprofit in the UK, has released new research from a study they had conducted. The study shows that reading for pleasure can have extended benefits in life.
Among the benefits it finds are improved social capital for children, young people and the general adult population; better parent-child communication and reduction of depression and dementia symptoms among adults.
This is the first part of a larger project that includes reading charities, libraries and education. They hope to create an outcomes reading framework that will allow those organizations to evaluate the impact of the work they do.
A new study of 19 preschoolers ages 3-5 years old studied brain activity while the children listened to stories. Done with functional magnetic resonance imaging, the study focused only on listening to stories, no visual stimuli were involved.
Results showed that more reading at home was “strongly associated with activation of specific brain areas supporting semantic processing (the extraction of meaning from language). These areas are critical for oral language and later for reading.”
Areas associated with mental imagery also showed a strong activation, meaning that children were able to “see the story” and watch their imaginations make images.
Scholastic has released the results of their 5th national survey on children and reading. The entire report is available online. Their key findings are:
- Half of all children ages 6-17 are currently reading a book for fun and another in five, just finished one.
- 86% of parents say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, but only 46% of children agree.
- 75% of parents agree that they want their children to read more books for fun and 71% would like to see their children do less screen time.
There’s lots more data to read and encouragement for families to continue reading aloud at home, sharing books with even the youngest of children, and finding books that inspire children to read for fun.
A new study from Edinburgh and King’s College in London studied 1890 pairs of identical twins over the course of nine years. The twins took IQ tests at age seven, nine, ten, 12 and 16. The results showed that those children who were better at reading had a higher general intelligence.
Because the study used identical twins, genetic and environmental factors were able to be set aside. The results showed that even with identical twins, if one twin could read better that twin would do better at IQ tests.
This fascinating result shows that being better at reading does more than allow you to read better, it speaks to being deeper than that and more profound.