Children love to have stories read to them. The words and pictures excite their growing imaginations and according to a new study, may improve their learning capabilities when they start elementary school.
The researchers followed more than 250 children from the age of 6 months to 54 months. The investigators found that kids whose mothers started reading to them in early infancy had better vocabulary and reading skills four years later, just before the start of elementary school.
"These findings are exciting because they suggest that reading to young children, beginning even in early infancy, has a lasting effect on language, literacy and early reading skills," said lead author Carolyn Cates. She is a research assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.
"What they're learning when you read with them as infants still has an effect four years later when they're about to begin elementary school," she explained in a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.)
The findings show the importance of programs that promote parent-infant book reading soon after birth, Cates said.
Reading to your child not only improves academic achievement, but also builds a more supportive and stronger bond between a child and parent or caregiver. Snuggling up with a book lets the two of you slow down and experience unique moments together.
Reading aloud to your little one also helps baby or toddler learn basic speech skills by reinforcing the sounds of language.
Remember, every book (even ones that are read and over – and there will be many- as your child develops favorites!) is a unique opportunity to give your baby an advantage later in life when learning skills are put to the test.
The study is scheduled for presentation May 8 at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.