While most people would agree that reading aloud to children is a good idea, new studies are showing just how beneficial reading aloud can be for toddlers and preschoolers. An article in the New York Times this week outlined two recent pediatric studies about the significant interactions that occur when children listen to books read aloud. Of course, this is something that the Peabody Education Foundation’s Guest Readers suspected all along!
The first study, published in the journal Pediatrics, monitored brain activity in 3- to 5-year-old children as they listened to stories, and found a positive correlation between higher reading exposure and greater activation of brain areas associated with mental imagery, language processing, and narrative comprehension. The children hearing the stories were imagining them in their minds, a skill that can then help those children develop into better readers.
The second study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that the language content of age-appropriate picture books contained more unique word types than the language used by parents talking to their children. This means that the more often children read to, the more likely they will hear a wider range of vocabulary words than those children who are not being read to. These studies show that reading to children plays an important role in developing brain activity and helping children become better readers.


The Peabody Education Foundation supports reading aloud to children through the Guest Reader program, in which individuals from the community spend 20-40 minutes each week reading to students in Peabody’s elementary schools. For more information about the Guest Reader program or to get involved, click the button below.

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