Why bedtime reading is more important than you think

Why bedtime reading is more important than you think

When the little ones are all comfy in their PJs, tucked up in bed, and excited for you to read them a story, their brains are doing much more than simply dozing off. In fact, these moments of shared reading activate an immense number of neurons in the brain, making new connections and strengthening existing ones.

Numerous studies have looked at the benefits that reading together has for a child. One such study found that children who are more exposed to reading at home develop neural circuits that support narrative comprehension. These neural circuits facilitate the development of a child’s literacy skills in general. [1] 

Reading together helps to develop a child's literacy skills

Shared reading activates an immense number of neurons in the brain, which helps develop a child’s literacy skills. This is a case of what scientists call 'biological embedding' - a process in which the brain undergoes long-term physical changes as a result of cognitive stimulation during early childhood. Shared reading is so influential for the child that even small increases in the activity are associated with improved brain function in areas that support literacy. [2] 

Actively participating in shared reading makes the experience more rewarding for children

According to researchers, the more engaged a child is while reading together – asking questions and sharing their thoughts on the story – the faster and stronger the connections between neurons will be.[2] The same study also found that encouraging children to participate actively and talk about a story can help them form stronger emotional connections between stories and their own life. All of which makes the shared-reading experience even more rewarding and more likely to become a part of their daily routine that they really look forward to [2]. And there you have it - that’s how a love of reading is developed!

Next time you’re reading together, take time to pause and talk about why the baby bear’s porridge was just right for Goldilocks… 



[1] Hutton, J., Horowitz-Kraus, T., Mendelsohn, A., DeWitt, T., Holland, T., the C-MIND Authorship Consortium, (2015). Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listening to Stories. PEDIATRICS, 136(3).

[2] Hutton, J., Phelan, K.,  Horowitz-Kraus, T., Dudley, J., Altaye, M., DeWitt, T., and Holland, S. (2017). Story time turbocharger? Child engagement during shared reading and cerebellar activation and connectivity in preschool-age children listening to stories. PLoS ONE, 12(5).