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Children who come from book-friendly homes show signs of higher brain activation.

Stashed in: Science!, Children, Awesome, Books!, Parents, Children, Children's Books, Mental Health

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There are plenty of good reasons to start reading to kids early. 

Even for newborns, time spent quietly connecting with a loved one is packed with goodness. Babies listen to parents’ voices, smell their comforting scent and get used to the sound of words. An early start (and loose expectations) makes reading time more likely to cement into ritual, one that’s good for both parents and kids.

A house packed with books may also influence a child’s brain, suggests an interesting study published August 10 in Pediatrics. Researchers led by pediatrician John Hutton used functional MRI to scan the brains of 19 children from ages 3 to 5.  While in the scanner, the kids listened to a story that included tantalizing plot twists like, “The frog jumped over the log.” All the while, the kids’ brains chugged away while they imagined this action.

These preschoolers came from homes with varying levels of bookishness, measured by a questionnaire that asked about the number and variety of books in the home, visits to the library and amount of reading per week.

Compared with kids with few books in their lives, kids who came from more book-friendly homes showed signs of higher brain activation in a particular stretch of neural tissue on the back left side of the brain, the researchers found. Called the parietal-temporal-occipital region, this particular patch of brain real estate has been linked to mental imagery and story comprehension, jobs that let kids vividly imagine the frog jumping over the log.  

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