The nightly tradition of reading a story or two does more than just calm children down for bed. The small practice can contribute positively to brain development and improve their overall well-being. A story can open the mind of a child to subjects that they don’t get to experience in their daily lives, which educates them. Children learn words, ask questions, and spend quality time with their parents. Research shows there’s a clear neurological distinction between children who read regularly and those who don’t, but it’s never too late to pick up the practice.
Here are the benefits of regularly reading bedtime stories that will set them up for the future:
Initiates Brain Development
Reading stimulates the rewiring of the brain and increases the activity in the verbal process area. You’re teaching your child to make connections between the words, sounds, and pictures. When you raise your voice to read, “oh no!”, you show the connection between the phrase and being alarmed, for example.
Exaggerating the pronunciation of a word like “monk-ee” helps children learn the different phenomes, the different sounds, in a language. The more often children hear these sounds, the faster the auditory cortex of the brain processes it and improves speaking.
Better Information Processing
As children learn language, they are also learning to process information faster. When children hear a story the first time, they miss parts of it. Repetition helps children to notice patterns and sequences that improve their ability to predict what comes next – improving their reading comprehension skills!
A diverse selection of books for bedtime exposes children to more words that they can add to their vocabulary. When they come across a new word, their natural intrigue means that they will ask questions to try and understand it. This helps them with their concentration and listening skills as they focus on understanding new words.
Using stories to enrich a child’s literacy does more than just talking to children since stories have subjects that they may not come across regularly, like a kangaroo or a flag. Stories that have “colorful” language can help challenge children to learn bigger words like “gargantuan” or “perplexing” that make stories more interesting.
It’s important for kids to have a nice, quiet, and comfy place to read bedtime stories just so that they can relax and unwind. Even better, cuddling with your children helps them associate reading with emotional warmth and will be an activity they enjoy. This creates strong bonds between the parent and child and it is more likely that the child will feel more comfortable opening up in the future.
The brain produces the hormone cortisol that activates the “fight or flight” response to protect a person from outside strains. Neurologists believe that reading a familiar book while snuggling with a parent can be comforting and lower cortisol levels that help children concentrate better.
Makes Good Habits
Associating reading with a comforting experience during bedtime can increase the likelihood of independent reading in children. More reading helps children perform better at school and develop better social skills.