Reading (and re-reading) a book to your child before bed is a cherished ritual that dates back decades. But what if those countless hours spent with Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein could serve a greater purpose? While the quality time spent together is reason enough, a recent study from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that participatory reading—or engaging your child with a text as opposed to reciting it to them—can actually "turbocharge" their cognitive development.
"The takeaway for parents in this study is that they should engage more when reading with their child, ask questions, have them turn the page, and interact with each other," said lead study author John Hutton, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's, in a recent press release. "In turn, this could fuel brain activation—or 'turbocharge' the development of literacy skills, particularly comprehension, in preschool-aged children."
To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers scanned the brains of 22 4-year-old girls during storytime with their mothers. Those who were more engaged with the reading—e.g., filling in the story blanks, turning the page, and touching the pages—showed "increased activation in right-sided cerebellar areas of the brain," which is associated with "cognitive skill acquisition and refinement via connection to language, association, and executive function areas." The researchers also emphasize the importance of limiting cell phone usage during storytime; this was seen as the most common preventable barrier throughout the study.
Have you experimented with engaged storytime with your child? Share your thoughts on the experience below!