reading with your child at home

New research shows that reading to children results in activation of specific areas of the brain associated with early literacy.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended to start reading with your child at home from birth. Reading to children has cognitive benefits, promoting both oral language and print concepts.

A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, has assessed the effects that reading to preschoolers has on the brain. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old were selected for the study. Blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to assess brain function during the story reading to the preschoolers.

The researchers found that reading to preschoolers was associated with activation of the brain in regions that are involved in mental imagery and narrative comprehension. This was the first study to use MRI to assess the effects of reading to children on the brain. The study supports an association between reading to children and the stimulation of particular regions in the brain that are associated with mental imagery and semantic processing (the extraction of meaning).

The study underscores the importance of reading with your child at home at early ages when the brain is rapidly developing. This study provides biological evidence of the benefits of reading to children in terms of developing literacy skills.



Hutton, JS, Horowitz-Kraus, T, Mendelsohn, AL, DeWitt, T, Holland, SK, the C-MIND Authorship Consortium “Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listening to Stories” Pediatrics Published online August 10, 2015

Image courtesy of Jomphong at




Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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