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What’s Going On In Your Child’s Brain When You Read Them A Story?

Parents, caregivers and teachers have options when it comes to story time. One can read a picture book, put on a cartoon, play an audio book.

What is happening inside young children’s brains in each of those situations. Some storytelling may be “too cold” for children, or “too hot.” And, some are “just right.” When children pay attention to the stories, what brain networks are likely to be influenced by the story?

One is language, one is visual perception and the third is visual imagery. The fourth interestingly is known as “the seat of the soul, internal reflection i.e. how something matters to you.

Audio only (too cold)

Language networks are activated, but there was less connectivity overall. “There is more evidence the children are straining to understand.”

Animation (too hot)

There is a lot of activity in the audio and visual perception networks, but not a lot of connectivity among the various brain networks. The animation is doing all the work for the child.The child’s comprehension of the story is not at the level it should be.

Illustration (just right)

When children see illustrations, Instead of only paying attention to the words children’s understanding of the story is “scaffolded” by having the images as clues.

The seat of the soul – regions of the brain that appear more active when someone is not actively concentrating on a designated mental task involving the outside world.

When we read to our children, they are doing more work than meets the eye. That muscle they’re developing bringing the images to life in their minds.

In an ideal world, you would always read to your child. When parents do turn to electronic devices for young children, they should gravitate toward the most stripped-down version of a narrated, illustrated ebook, as opposed to either audio-only or animation.

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