How Books and Reading Can Help Your Child’s Mind Grow
“In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ~ Mortimer Jerome Adler, American author and philosopher
It is no surprise that books can make readers smarter by developing critical thinking skills and building their vocabulary. However, new research from the University of Pennsylvania shows that books and other educational materials can physically enhance brain development among young children.
Neuroscientist Martha Farah and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania recruited 64 children from birth to their late adolescence. She visited their homes at four and eight years of age to evaluate their environment, which included the number of books and educational toys in their homes.
Ten years after the second house visit, research discovered that the level of mental stimulation children received at age four predicted the thickness of regions in the cortex of the brain, where most actual information processing occurs, in their late adolescence. Those who exhibited more mental stimulation at home exhibited thinner cortex, which helps make processing information more efficient.
“It seems likely that cognitive stimulation experienced early in life led to changes in cortical thickness,” Farah explained at a meeting where she reported her findings.
Although this research is still in its infancy, this latest study highlights the importance of providing children with a stimulating environment at early ages to promote brain development.