The results suggest that learning to read at an early age has ramifications far beyond simple literacy.
The results suggest that learning to read at an early age has ramifications far beyond simple literacy.

Just 10 books can help children develop

By FIONA MACRAE Time of article published Oct 25, 2012

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London - Children whose homes are filled with books don’t just have the fun of being read to. They also enjoy the benefits years later.

A study has found that if just ten children’s books are to hand when a child is four, a part of their brain involved in language and thought matures more quickly by the age of 18 or 19.

Access to educational toys and trips to the zoo and amusement parks also help.

However, if introduced at the age of eight, these books and treats seem to have little impact on the brain, suggesting the age of four is a critical time in the development of the brain, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual conference in New Orleans heard.

The University of Pennsylvania study comes amid concern that youngsters are abandoning books in favour of TV and computer games.

The research has excited scientists because it the first to show how small differences in a normal upbringing affect the brain. Previous studies have centred around youngsters with traumatic upbringings, including children who had been locked in Romanian orphanages and victims of abuse.

The US researchers visited the homes of 64 children, whose parents had a similar socio- economic status, when they were aged four and again aged eight.

They noted things such as access to books and toys. About 15 years after the first visit, the children underwent brain scans. These showed that in children who had access to books and educational toys and went on trips at the age of four, parts of the brain were thinner – which is a good thing in terms of development.

Researcher Martha Farrah said: “In the course of brain maturity during childhood and adulthood, the cortex becomes thinner... so you are left with a lean, mean machine.” - Daily Mail

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