We all know how important storytime is with infants and small children. It strengthens the bonds with the parent and ensure your child’s success. Reading to young children is proven to improve cognitive skills and help along the process of cognitive development. Cognitive development is the emergence of the ability to think and understand; it’s “the construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood.” It refers to how a person perceives and thinks about his or her world through areas such as information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development, attention span, and memory.
When you begin reading aloud to your child, it essentially provides them with background knowledge on their young world, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read. In fact, many educators and researchers postulate that “It is the talk that surrounds the reading that gives it power, helping children to bridge what is in the story and their own lives,” rather than just the vocalization of the words. Introducing reading into your young child’s life, and the conversations that it will prompt, helps them to make sense of their own lives, especially at a young age.
A new report that has just been released actually claims that infants are prewired to understand words and letters. Analyzing brain scans of newborns, researchers found that this part of the brain – called the “visual word form area” (VWFA) – is connected to the language network of the brain. “That makes it fertile ground to develop a sensitivity to visual words – even before any exposure to language,” said Zeynep Saygin, senior author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.
The VWFA is specialized for reading only in literate individuals. Some researchers had hypothesized that the pre-reading VWFA starts out being no different than other parts of the visual cortex that are sensitive to seeing faces, scenes or other objects, and only becomes selective to words and letters as children learn to read or at least as they learn language. “We found that isn’t true. Even at birth, the VWFA is more connected functionally to the language network of the brain than it is to other areas,” Saygin said. “It is an incredibly exciting finding.”
The goal of the study and their work in general is to learn how the brain becomes a reading brain. Learning more about individual variability may help researchers understand differences in reading behavior and could be useful in the study of dyslexia and other developmental disorders.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.