Yes, reading for your children helps their language development (2 new studies)

I have two studies to share with you today, telling you the same story: reading to (young) children helps them to develop their language.

The first study is a randomized controlled trial with parents/guardians who were given a set of 20 children’s books specifically chosen to support early language development and interaction with print media. Enrolled families agreed to read at least one book per day and have their infants tested with an expressive and receptive language test at their well-child visits. The study by Franks et al. showed that the infants who received consistent, daily reading of at least one book a day, starting at two weeks of age, demonstrated improved language scores as early as nine months of age. The findings were published in December in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

The second study is a meta-analysis by Suzanne Mol, sadly enough only available in Dutch at the moment. In this study Mol examined two research questions:

Research question 1: How strong is the relationship between preschoolers’ pre-reading experiences and their vocabulary and nascent literacy?

Answer: As young children have more reading experience at home, they know more words,
letters and sounds. Pre-reading experience seems to be more strongly associated with vocabulary, and receptive vocabulary in particular, than with nascent literacy. The conclusions in this metaanalysis are based primarily on studies with children ages five and six.

Research question 2: How strong is the relationship between the reading experience of elementary and secondary school students and their vocabulary, reading comprehension, and reading enjoyment?

Answer: Reading experience seems to be primarily related to vocabulary, word recognition (as part
of technical reading) and reading comprehension of 6- to 18-year-olds. The role of reading experience is greater in reading comprehension than with reading pleasure and the basic skills of reading (phonological and orthographic processing).

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