Hothousing toddlers with complicated story books does not give them an advantage over other children, researchers have found. This is from the Daily Mail…
Reading a picture book with one or two words per page is just as beneficial for a pre-school child as one with long sentences.
The key to success is as much talking about what happens in the book as reading any text.
Books like Jez Alborough’s Hug, which uses just one word throughout, is just as good for development.
Simple text tends to stimulate complex discussions between adult and child, whereas complicated sentences reduce the need for dialogue, the study concluded.
Each method helps children learn the complicated structures of language.
Books like Jez Alborough’s Hug, which uses just one word throughout, is therefore just as good for development as Mick Inkpen’s Kipper.
It also means parents who struggle with literacy need not worry about stunting their child’s development – as long as they talk with them about what they are reading together.
One of the researchers, Dr Thea Cameron-Faulkner of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at Manchester University, said: ‘The really exciting thing is it doesn’t matter what you read to your children as long as they are interested in the book.’ The study involved 23 mothers who were monitored as they read a simple book and a complicated one to their two-year-olds.
The language they used during free play in a toy kitchen was also analysed.
Findings included ‘structurally rich’ sentences being used 42 per cent of the time with simple books, marginally less than the 47 per cent with complex books. The figure for play was just 30 per cent.
Partial sentences – such as ‘in the box’ – were used by adults 36 per cent of the time during play, compared to 31 per cent with complicated books and 29 per cent with simple books.
Manchester University: one of the researchers, Dr Thea Cameron-Faulkner, said: ‘The really exciting thing is it doesn’t matter what you read to your children as long as they are interested in the book’
Dr Cameron-Faulkner added: ‘Recent studies indicate that one of the key predictors in children’s mathematical skill is early language experience and so the rich linguistic experience associated with shared book reading may have benefits above and beyond language development.
‘But what hasn’t really been understood is how it impacts on children’s ability to learn grammar – a huge part of their language development.
‘Our research shows quite clearly that books are a valuable source of language input. The language used when sharing books contains more complex, structurally rich constructions than everyday child-directed speech.
‘And because a simpler book is just as valuable as a more complex one, this is good news for parents who may struggle with their reading.’
Co-researcher Dr Claire Noble, from the Max Planck Child Study Centre at Manchester University, added: ‘Children have a range of cognitive skills which, in combination with exposure to their native language, helps them to learn grammar.
‘This research provides strong evidence for the value of book reading in language development.’
What’s your reaction to this? Is it the kind of information that should be communicated to parents to help encourage them to read more with their children? Please share your thoughts in the comments or on twitter…