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Reading Is Brain Food for Kids

Reading Is Brain Food for Kids

From Counting Kisses to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and from The Cat in the Hat to Where the Wild Things Are, the books that were read to you as a child have a special place in your memories. But there’s more to snuggling up on Mom or Dad’s lap while they read to you than you may realize. Being read to expands a child’s imagination, vocabulary and ability to understand abstract concepts. It actually helps the brain grow and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has the MRIs to prove it.

They scanned the brains of 19 three to five year-olds and found that those children whose parents read to them often had much more active and developed areas of the brain where you comprehend language and create mental images. That development allows an easy transition from picture books to text-based books.

It’s well documented that a young child’s mental development increases the more parents talk to him or her. Kids need to hear words -- not baby talk -- and be spoken to directly from the very beginning of life. By 18 months, kids who are not spoken to very often are already falling behind in verbal skills. So talk to your child; read to them and make up stories together. And if you don’t have a handy supply of kids’ books, ask friends to share books their children have outgrown.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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