Reading to preschool-aged children regularly can have a positive impact on their language skills and their ability to comprehend information, according to the findings of a recent review-based research study. The findings highlighted that frequent reading by parents and elders enhances child’s receptive language skills , bettering their ability to understand information by as much as eight months (an advantage over same-aged kids who were not read to akin to eight-months of additional training).
A team of researchers from the Newcastle University funded by the Nuffield Foundation reviewed 16 existing studies that were published in different parts of the world over the past 40 years. These studies were based on parents who read books or electronic readers to their children, falling in the age bracket of 39 months and hailing from five countries including the US, South Africa, Canada, Israel, and China.
The findings of the studies highlighted that frequent reading to children enhanced their expressive language skills or the way they put their ideas into words and improved their pre-reading skills such as word structure. The biggest impact was on the child’s receptive language skills and their ability to comprehend information easily, the findings indicated. The results were positive for each category and were more beneficial for socially-disadvantaged children.
James Law, professor of Speech and Language Sciences at Newcastle University and the leader of the research: “While we already knew reading with young children is beneficial to their development and later academic performance, the eight-month advantage this review identified was striking. Eight months is a big difference in language skills when you are looking at children aged under five.”
Experts and educationists also urge public health authorities to promote book reading among parents. “There have been lots of initiatives over the years to get books into the homes of young children. What we’re saying is that’s not enough. Reading with small children has a powerful effect. For this reason, it should be promoted through people like health visitors and other public health professionals as this simple act has the potential to make a real difference.” Professor Law added.
The team failed in finding any studies that employed a randomised or a quasi-experiment parent-child reading intervention in the UK. Different recommendations were also given by the researchers which included to promote parent/child book reading, to disseminate the role of parents in promoting book reading among children and to undertake an assessment of the early reading interventions in the UK to fill the gap present in the evidence base.