Category: Reading

New Study of Impact of Literacy Apps

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Science Daily has information about a study of the impact of tablets loaded with literacy apps on children. For the last four years, MIT, Tufts University and Georgia State University have been studying whether tablet computers with literacy apps could improve reading preparedness of young children living in economically disadvantaged communities.

They did three trials of the tablets: one in two rural Ethiopian villages with no schools and no written culture, one in a suburban South African school with a student-teacher ratio of 60 to 1, and one in a rural school in the United States.Students are given the tablets with no coaching from adults, because the plan is to scale this up to a larger level. There was no issue with children using the tablets and most had explored all of the apps by the end of the first day.

The results:

In the South African trial, rising second graders who had been issued tablets the year before were able to sound out four times as many words as those who hadn’t, and in the U.S. trial, which involved only 4-year-olds and lasted only four months, half-day preschool students were able to supply the sounds corresponding to nearly six times as many letters as they had been before the trial.

New trials are being run now in Uganda, Bangladesh, India and the US. A total of 2000 children have been part of the study so far.

This is certainly something for libraries and teachers to keep an eye on!

First Book Video

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:

Another Reason for Kids to Read

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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.

Reading to Children – Medically Proven to Change Brains!

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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.

Read more at Huff Po and Web MD.

Reading and Well Being


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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.

Reading = Brain Activity

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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.

Kids & Family Reading Report

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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.