We've always known that reading makes kids smarter, but now the science is in. Children's brains are dramatically changed and enhanced the sooner and the more frequent kids read for pleasure. The life outcomes are priceless.
"Reading for pleasure is one of the important and enjoyable childhood learning initiatives. Basically, reading is a cognitively enriching activity of gaining language and information in written form, which sets the stage and contributes broadly to knowledge acquisition. Distinct from language ability that allows children to naturally develop language systems even in linguistically deficient environments, reading is a learnt skill requiring step-by-step systematic instructions, and is generally acquired and developed through explicit practice over months/years.
"Moreover, since children can learn well through play, it's important to awaken joy in their early learning, e.g., by utilizing well-illustrated picture reading materials to help them understand better. During reading for pleasure, children not only practice cognitive phonological (sound of words) and orthographic (spelling) reading processes, but also enjoy assimilating wisdom of interest, which may help in the development of long-term reading habits.
"Regarding early childhood reading for pleasure, with instructions and assistance from caregivers/teachers, children can understand initial printed information, learn initial reading skills including alphabetic decoding and phonological processes, engage in interactive discussions of the educational texts and images, and strengthen the bond with caregivers while enjoying reading together. Hearing books read aloud also helps young children's language skills develop, and it's known that written language has differences with spoken language, and even books for beginner readers contain language that is significantly different in terms of content and complexity from oral conversations.
"Multiple benefits of early reading activities on future advanced reading and language abilities have been reported. Furthermore, earlier interventions for dyslexia have been found to have a more positive response than those delivered in later primary school years.
"The critical period for brain development and experience-dependent plasticity in learning is childhood, which helps foster good cognition and well-being throughout life. The benefits of brain health and the development and establishment of behavior in childhood that promote this is key to healthy development and mental well-being into adolescence and adulthood, providing resilience in times of stress. Our brains are in the key developmental stage during early childhood. Neuroimaging revealed that growth in the brain cortical surface area and grey matter volume was greatest and had reached 80% of adult size by age 2. Then they expanded gradually until approximately ages 8–12, after which they declined progressively....
"Notably, brain plasticity peaks during the early-life childhood period throughout its lifelong dynamical regulations, and studies have indicated the importance of the early stage in learning, such as language and mathematics learning. Comparable to the childhood sensitive period for learning and extensive brain maturation, adolescence is also a continued period of structural and functional brain development, particularly in the brain systems related to social–emotional, cognitive and motivational processes, with mixed influences from pubertal maturation....
"Compatible with the rapid rate of brain development and learning during the early years, evidence has shown the benefits of early stage learning or intervention initiatives. The US Child Parent Center education program has reported long-lasting benefits for children who began preschool education earlier at 3–4 years old compared with those who began kindergarten at older ages. The former preschool participants have higher educational levels and socioeconomic status and lower rates of substance abuse in adulthood. European research also reports the long-term beneficial effects of high-quality preschool and home learning environments for children, that are associated with literacy and numeracy at age 11. This research shows that the magnitudes of the benefits are equal to or exceed the effects of several negative factors, including early developmental problems.
"Furthermore, the importance of children's early stages for behavioral intervention in the typical neurodevelopmental disorder, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is clear. Behavioral interventions launched in young children using the Early-Start-Denver Model, and infant pre-emptive interventions alter the long-term developmental course of autism, with core ASD symptoms severity reduced.
"These suggest that the early childhood stage is critical for neurodevelopment, learning, cognition, and behavior. For optimal typical development, it's important to seize this critical period for early learning activities and make these experiences appropriate, informative and enriching."
Early initiated childhood reading for pleasure: associations with better cognitive performance, mental well-being and brain structure in young adolescence https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/earlyinitiated-childhood-reading-for-pleasure-associations-with-better-cognitive-performance-mental-wellbeing-and-brain-structure-in-young-adolescence/03FB342223A3896DB8C39F171659AE33
"The findings are based on more than 10,000 U.S. kids, ages 9 to 13, who were part of a long-term study of brain development and child health. Parents were asked about their child's daily activities, including reading for pleasure—estimating the age at which they started, and how many hours they currently devoted to it.
"Just over half of the kids were considered early readers: They'd been reading for pleasure for anywhere from three to 10 years. The rest—48%—either did not read for fun or had only begun in the past couple years. Overall, the study found, early readers scored higher on standard tests of memory, speech and the ability to process verbal information. They also had fewer behavioral problems, like aggression, and fewer signs of depression, based on parents' reports."
Kids who read for pleasure grow into better-adjusted teens: study https://phys.org/news/2023-06-kids-pleasure-better-adjusted-teens.html
Childhood Reading Habits Boost Brain and Mental Health in Teens https://neurosciencenews.com/child-reading-teen-mental-health-23545/
Reading for Pleasure Helps Kids' Brain Development https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-for-pleasure-helps-kids-brain-development/
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