Shared reading at home and brain development in infants
and young children
Key words: Reading, Children, Home reading environment, Brain development, Neuroimaging
The article provides an overview of recent advances in the understanding of how and
when the home reading environment influences brain development in the first years of life.
Neural circuits that enable language and reading skills are based on a combination
of innate patterns and environmental experiences. The importance of the home reading
environment in shaping and enhancing the neural circuits in several cerebral areas has
been shown by neuroimaging studies, thus confirming the evidence produced by behavioural
and intervention studies. Precocity of initiation of shared reading, its frequency
and duration, number and variety of children’s books are all important factors in building
and improving emergent literacy components. Paediatricians, as well as all child
health and education professionals, should engage in the promotion of shared reading
at home as a priority action to support child development, improve caregiver - child relationship
and reduce developmental gaps.
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