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Reading books boosts child language

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A new study by researchers from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research provides more evidence that reading books to young children and helping them visually to follow the story improves a child’s language.

The results have been published online in the international journal First Language.

Lead author Dr Brad Farrant said they investigated the factors that facilitate children’s language (vocabulary) development between 9 and 34 months of age using data from Growing Up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

“We looked at a range of factors for 2188 children in LSAC including joint attention, book-reading, child vocabulary, child temperament, maternal age, maternal education, parenting, number of siblings in the home, household income and community socio-economic status,” Dr Farrant said.

“Our findings indicate that higher levels of parent-child book reading are associated with significantly better child language (vocabulary) development.

“Children with more educated mothers have larger vocabularies because they engage in more parent-child book reading.”

The study also confirmed previous research demonstrating a gender gap favouring girls, who had a significantly greater vocabulary than boys at around 3 years of age.

Dr Farrant said the results add to the body of evidence that parents play a major role in children’s early language development.

“Combining the findings of our study with previous research suggests that interventions targeting children’s early language development would be well served by focussing on book reading as early as possible in children’s lives,” Dr Farrant said.

“Parents from all backgrounds can help ensure their children have sound language skills at school entry and beyond by reading to them throughout the preschool years.”

Parent-child picture book reading provides an excellent opportunity for vocabulary expansion by learning word-object mapping in a more structured setting and involves pointing gestures, joint attention and verbal labelling.

(Source: Telethon Institute for Child Health Research: First Language)

More information

Developmental milestones in childhoodFor more information on developmental milestones in childhood, including recommended health check-ups and childhood immunisation, see Child Developmental Milestones.

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Posted On: 15 November, 2011
Modified On: 28 March, 2014


Created by: myVMC