Reading and receptive language

Reading to children helps them to contextualise their environment, better understand language, and effectively express themselves. Though we know reading to young children is beneficial for their early brain development, until recently, there was little evidence demonstrating the value in reading to babies from birth. 

American researchers recently found that infants who were consistently read to every day as newborns had better receptive language and expressive language abilities, as well as better combined language scores, at 9- and 12-months than those who were read fewer than seven books a week. 

All participating families were given the same 20 books, chosen by a speech pathologist, to read with their children. One group was advised to read every day, the other group were not, and all participants were given a logbook to track their reading. The differences in ability between the groups also widened from the 9-month follow-up to the 12-month follow-up. 

Additionally, parents in the study who were given the instruction to read to their child every day were more likely to do so than the control group. 

While the study admits it shows more of a correlation between behaviours and outcomes than causation, it does suggest that making a habit of reading to children as early as possible is likely to positively influence their language abilities. 

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Read the academic article here: