New Study Shows It Does Matter Which Books You Read to Your Baby

It’s important to read to babies, we know that. It gives us a habit that could help us connect more with the baby, and since this is the age when the babies are accepting their reality and memorize it subconsciously it’s really important also to pick books and stories that will help with better development later when they grow up.

What books and stories are the best when it comes to the baby’s mind and what would you pick to read for them?

Researchers clearly see the benefits of shared book reading for child growth and development, and shared book reading is a good way for language and cognitive development with increasing vocabulary and pre-reading skills. It also enhances the child-parent relation by encouraging reciprocal interactions – the back-and-forth communication between the child and the parent while the child learns in the process. In other words, the more books the parent reads with the child and the more time they spend reading, the greater the developmental benefits are in the 4 year old child.

Our most recent addition to this series of studies was funded by the National Science Foundation and just published in the journal Child Development. Here’s what we did.

We brought 6-month old infants into the lab, where we could see how much they pay attention when it comes to story characters they’ve never seen before. We used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure their brain responses. Infants wear a net of 128 sensors that looks like a cap which gives us a possibility to record the electricity naturally emitted from the scalp as the brain works. We measured these neural responses while infants looked at and paid attention to pictures on a computer screen.

We also tracked the infants’ gaze using the eye-tracking technology to see what characters they most focused on and on which paid most attention. The data we collected are in great use to us as a baseline to this research, which helps us to compare the measurements with future measurements that we’ll make. We sent the kids’ home with the storybooks that we used featuring the same characters.

We also divided up our volunteers into 3 groups. One group of parents read their child a storybook that contains 6 individual character names that they never heard and seen before. The second group were also given the individual 6 characters but were names all of them with the same name (such as “Hitchel”). The third group we had parents that didn’t read them anything new or special throughout the study.

After three months, the families with their kids returned to the lab so we could again measure the infants’ attention to our storybook characters. The results turn out that only the first group made progress with the 6 different individual names for the characters for which the kids showed enhanced attention compared to their earlier visit.

Also the brain activities also showed that the babies in the first group could distinguish between different individual characters, while the second and the third one with the generic labels didn’t show many results.

So, what’s the best book to read to a baby to help it with greater development?

Children love stories that contain animals, anything related to nature, stories that include faces and different forms from which they learn from. There are different books for kids that are 6-8 months old and 2-4 years old, not every book is equal for the kids. The parents should try with different books meant for the age of the kid, and include different types of them. Every child is unique so the parent must be willing to do their best to find the child’s favorite one, and to help it learn throughout the process.

So, parents: add a shared book reading to your daily routine list and name the characters in the books you read.

Source: ScienceAlert


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