For many, reading time with their children comes in the form of bedtime stories. This is a great way to get in that all-important bonding time and improve your child’s love of literature and books. Not only do bedtime stories help to build a lifelong passion for reading and improve chances for academic success in the future, they carry a wealth of other benefits. Here’s a look at the importance of bedtime stories in early literacy.
Just over a year ago, a statement came down from the American Academy of Pediatrics that hammered home the importance of literacy promotion right from birth in pediatric primary care. If your pediatrician has not already advised you to undertake reading time with your child, they should do so soon. There are extensive studies that prove the link between early reading and language development as well as academic success.
A recent study published in the Pediatrics journal showed that brain activity in 3- to 5-year-old kids who listen to stories changes drastically based on how much the children have access to literature in the home, and how often they experience reading time.
Those kids whose parents read to them on a regular basis and had access to more books in the home saw much greater brain activity in the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex, or the part of the brain that deals with sensory integration and associates sound and visual stimulation. This is the same region of the brain that activates when older children read on their own.
Sound and Vision
Even children who just listen to stories without pictures saw greater stimulation in the visual association region. This is because listening to bedtime stories engages the imagination, or the “mind’s eye,” and causes the listener to call forth mental images of the events in the story. As such, word association and imaginative critical thinking are improved.
In fact, children who watch cartoons and videos without hearing an associated story can experience less stimulation. This implies that the brain is best stimulated with words or the combination of words and imagery.
Why This Matters
When people get used to a certain part of their brain being stimulated, they instinctively look to continue stimulating that part of the brain. This means that kids who listen to stories or engage in interactive reading from birth are more likely to continue and expand these activities as they grow older.
Language and analytical skills become amplified and intelligence improves. As children hear more words, they practice forming associated imagery, and as the language becomes more complex, so does their ability to visualize and interpret the language.
All of this doesn’t even consider the importance of bonding time between parents and children. Spending time reading bedtime stories with your child creates a sense of trust, safety and intimacy that is vital to their emotional development. If you are looking for a great way to get your child’s journey to literature started, try an interactive eBook like The Old Woman in the Woods, then look at our many other fun early literacy tools!