Bedtime stories are more than just a way to get your child to go to bed. But researchers have attached many other benefits to this nightly routine. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that literacy promotion, which includes reading bedtime stories, should be a part of pediatric primary care for babies, starting the moment they’re born.

This prompted pediatricians to advise parents about the importance of reading to their kids, even to the very young ones. You might want to establish this routine too once you learn of its benefits, which include the following:

It boosts brain development in kids.

According to a study published in the Pediatrics journal, children who are more exposed to reading and are surrounded by books at home showed greater activation in the left hemisphere, or the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. This is the part of the brain devoted to multisensory integration as it integrates visual and sound stimulation, according to Dr. John S. Hutton, the lead researcher and clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The research studied the brain activity in three- to five-year old kids using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as they listened to bedtime stories.

The left hemisphere is very active in older kids who read to themselves, but it also reacts in kids when they listen to adults reading bedtime stories.

Dr. Hutton added that the children imagine things as they listen to stories, helping them develop this part of the brain that would make them better at making stories and images out of words and help them become better readers in the future.

Another brain benefit to hearing bedtime stories is the rewiring of a child’s brain. The more you read, the more they will be exposed to phonemes, of which there are 44 sounds in English. This ranges from ee to ss. Every time your baby hears these sounds, they will become more adept at processing them. When he’s trying to speak, it will be easier for him to distinguish the differences between different words, such as between doll and tall. When he’s learning to read, he will be more skilled at reading unfamiliar words.

It helps build children’s vocabulary.

Once you’re done reading bedtime stories, you can use the story to build a conversation. Ask your kids questions to help them practice the language.

Lise Eliot, Ph.D., neuroscience assistant professor at Chicago Medical School and author of What’s Going On In There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. She said that it’s not a good idea to keep correcting your child’s words. Instead, you should say the word, or the sentence, properly.

Reading is a good tool for introducing new objects and ideas to your kids, especially if you’re reading books with a colorful language, something that uses words that are rarely used in daily conversations.

It helps develop their logic.

The more kids hear stories, the better they become at spotting patterns and sequences, developing their logical thinking skills in the process. You might hear them interrupting you, saying their predictions as to how the story would turn out. You can help them further by asking them questions about what they think might happen next or how they think the story might end.

It helps kids relax.

If you read bedtime stories with snuggles, it will soothe your kids and help them associate reading to warm, fun feelings. This is especially important if you have a school girl or boy, who may be susceptible to bullying or other stressful factors in school. Reading them a story would be a good way to end their day, and yours too!

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