Friday, March 2, 2012

Books Benefit Brains!! by Deborah McNelis, Brain Insights

Happy Read Across America Day  And the Celebration of Dr. Seuss!

Read Across America Day is a day and initiative to promote the benefits of reading and the enjoyment of books with young children. It is so extremely wonderful to have a day dedicated to this focus. Many previous posts on this blog focus on the topic of reading. This is all so valuable because early literacy experiences impact optimal brain development and learning for life!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if 100% of children were read to daily?

Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 53% to 58% of children ages 3 to 5 are read to daily. This designated day is a great effort toward achieving the goal of increasing this number to 100%! 

Starting today we can help promote reading events, activity ideas and book donation programs across the country… and world. If you know of initiatives and programs, I invite you to share this information with everyone under comments. We can then post the information you contribute on social networking sites and also share the information directly with parents you are in contact with everyday. (Since, this is the Pre-KandKSHARING blog ~ This is what we are all about!) 

Sharing books with children is so fun and so advantageous!

Children love to hear stories. Just watch the face of a child light up when they are enjoying a new book or are hearing a favorite story again. It has been proven that reading with children enhances learning in numerous ways. To gain the most benefit for growing brains…. reading books to children needs to begin in infancy.

  • Studies have shown that in most cases, the highest level high school and college students were read to as young children. This is due to the fact that reading aloud helps children develop language and vocabulary before they start school.
  • The brain develops most language skills from birth to the age of three. When children are talked to frequently during these early years, this results in a better vocabulary and a higher level of language ability overall. 
  • When a child is read to, cells in the brain are triggered within seconds.  Some existing connections in the brain are strengthened while new connections are formed. This helps create a more defined and complex wiring in the brain. Repeated book reading experiences strengthen connections, which will benefit a child for learning throughout life. 
  • Reading to a child is so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that pediatricians prescribe reading activities to parents during their well child visits. The AAP also recommends no television for the first two years of a child’s life.
  • When reading a book, the child has the opportunity to hear direct language.  The brain makes connections for language development only through experiences of being spoken to directly.  Television and DVD’s do not provide the give and take of interactive language. 
  • A National Wildlife Federation report states, ““By the time most children attend kindergarten, they have watched more than 5,000 hours of television–enough time to earn a college degree.”  YIKES!
  • Studies have shown that children who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school. The National Commission on Reading found that reading aloud to a child is the single most important intervention for developing literacy skills. 

Literacy skills development isn’t the only brain benefit that results from reading to a child!
  • The time spent cuddling while reading is also very important.  This closeness helps the brain make valuable connections contributing to healthy emotional development.  Young babies need touch for brain growth. Infants also find the sound of the voice reassuring and calming.
  • Reading with children also presents the possibility for children to open up about feelings or things that are bothering them in a comfortable way.
  • Books also provide a way for adults to begin discussions to help children gain new perspectives and learn about people, places and things outside of their immediate environment.  

Here are some Ideas for Promoting Reading Enjoyment!    

Make new fun places and opportunities for reading! The brain likes novelty. It becomes more alert when things are new and different.
It also needs calm relaxing periods during each day. And of course we all know how having a book read at bedtime helps to calm the brain for sleep.

…. Make a “reading nook” by putting a blanket over a table.

…. Read outside under a tree, at a picnic table, on a blanket,
 or in a hammock.

…. Bring a book to the doctor or dentist office, restaurant or anywhere else you have to wait.  
                    (The brain does not like to be bored)

…. Make a cozy reading spot by filling a dry bathtub 
with pillows.

…. After reading a book together, have your child read or retell the story to a stuffed animal, pet or another family member.

For more learning and loving brain activities go to, Brain Insights

    The tag line I often use for Brain Insights is, "Inspiring REAL brain development for ALL young children."  Several of the points above are the reason I stress the word "REAL". Through sharing information based on scientific research, we can ensure that children have special interactions with people and real objects that their growing brains need.

Enjoy a book …or two with a child today!


  1. AWESOME post!!! I completely agree!!

  2. How sad that so few children are read to daily. It's wonderful that there are days like Read Across America Day to help encourage reading aloud. Great information about research - and great suggestions for promoting reading! I pinned your post to my Literature-Based Activities Pinterest board at


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