For baby’s brain to benefit, read the right books at the right time



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How can you maximize reading’s rewards for baby?
aijiro/Shutterstock.com

Lisa S. Scott, University of Florida

Parents often receive books at pediatric checkups via programs like Reach Out and Read and hear from a variety of health professionals and educators that reading to their kids is critical for supporting development.

The pro-reading message is getting through to parents, who recognize that it’s an important habit. A summary report by Child Trends, for instance, suggests 55 percent of three- to five-year-old children were read to every day in 2007. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 83 percent of three- to five-year-old children were read to three or more times per week by a family member in 2012.

What this ever-present advice to read with infants doesn’t necessarily make clear, though, is that what’s on the pages may be just as important as the book-reading experience itself. Are all books created equal when it comes to early shared-book reading? Does it matter what you pick to read? And are the best books for babies different than the best books for toddlers?

In order to guide parents on how to create a high-quality book-reading experience for their infants, my psychology research lab has conducted a series of baby learning studies. One of our goals is to better understand the extent to which shared book reading is important for brain and behavioral development.

Even the littlest listeners can enjoy having a book read to them.
Maggie Villiger, CC BY-ND

What’s on baby’s bookshelf

Researchers see clear benefits of shared book reading for child development. Shared book reading with young children is good for language and cognitive development, increasing vocabulary and pre-reading skills and honing conceptual development.

Shared book reading also likely enhances the quality of the parent-infant relationship by encouraging reciprocal interactions – the back-and-forth dance between parents and infants. Certainly not least of all, it gives infants and parents a consistent daily time to cuddle.

Recent research has found that both the quality and quantity of shared book reading in infancy predicted later childhood vocabulary, reading skills and name writing ability. In other words, the more books parents read, and the more time they’d spent reading, the greater the developmental benefits in their 4-year-old children.

This important finding is one of the first to measure the benefit of shared book reading starting early in infancy. But there’s still more to figure out about whether some books might naturally lead to higher-quality interactions and increased learning.

EEG caps let researchers record infant volunteers’ brain activity.
Matthew Lester, CC BY-ND

Babies and books in the lab

In our investigations, my colleagues and I followed infants across the second six months of life. We’ve found that when parents showed babies books with faces or objects that were individually named, they learn more, generalize what they learn to new situations and show more specialized brain responses. This is in contrast to books with no labels or books with the same generic label under each image in the book. Early learning in infancy was also associated with benefits four years later in childhood.

Our most recent addition to this series of studies was funded by the National Science Foundation and just published in the journal Child Development. Here’s what we did.

First, we brought six-month-old infants into our lab, where we could see how much attention they paid to story characters they’d never seen before. We used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure their brain responses. Infants wear a cap-like net of 128 sensors that let us record the electricity naturally emitted from the scalp as the brain works. We measured these neural responses while infants looked at and paid attention to pictures on a computer screen. These brain measurements can tell us about what infants know and whether they can tell the difference between the characters we show them.

We also tracked the infants’ gaze using eye-tracking technology to see what parts of the characters they focused on and how long they paid attention.

Eye-tracking setups let researchers monitor what infants are paying attention to.
Matthew Lester, CC BY-ND

The data we collected at this first visit to our lab served as a baseline. We wanted to compare their initial measurements with future measurements we’d take, after we sent them home with storybooks featuring these same characters.

Example of pages from a named character book researchers showed to baby volunteers.
Lisa Scott

We divided up our volunteers into three groups. One group of parents read their infants storybooks that contained six individually named characters that they’d never seen before. Another group were given the same storybooks but instead of individually naming the characters, a generic and made-up label was used to refer to all the characters (such as “Hitchel”). Finally, we had a third comparison group of infants whose parents didn’t read them anything special for the study.

After three months passed, the families returned to our lab so we could again measure the infants’ attention to our storybook characters. It turned out that only those who received books with individually labeled characters showed enhanced attention compared to their earlier visit. And the brain activity of babies who learned individual labels also showed that they could distinguish between different individual characters. We didn’t see these effects for infants in the comparison group or for infants who received books with generic labels.

These findings suggest that very young infants are able to use labels to learn about the world around them and that shared book reading is an effective tool for supporting development in the first year of life.

Best book choices vary as kids grow.
Penn State, CC BY-NC-ND

Tailoring book picks for maximum effect

So what do our results from the lab mean for parents who want to maximize the benefits of storytime?

Not all books are created equal. The books that parents should read to six- and nine-month-olds will likely be different than those they read to two-year-olds, which will likely be different than those appropriate for four-year-olds who are getting ready to read on their own. In other words, to reap the benefits of shared book reading during infancy, we need to be reading our little ones the right books at the right time.

For infants, finding books that name different characters may lead to higher-quality shared book reading experiences and result in the learning and brain development benefits we find in our studies. All infants are unique, so parents should try to find books that interest their baby.

My own daughter loved the “Pat the Bunny” books, as well as stories about animals, like “Dear Zoo.” If names weren’t in the book, we simply made them up.

The ConversationIt’s possible that books that include named characters simply increase the amount of parent talking. We know that talking to babies is important for their development. So parents of infants: Add shared book reading to your daily routines and name the characters in the books you read. Talk to your babies early and often to guide them through their amazing new world – and let storytime help.

Lisa S. Scott, Associate Professor in Psychology, University of Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

How to Approach Book Reviewers


The link below is to an article that looks at the right way to approach book reviewers.

For more visit:
http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2015/05/how-to-approach-book-reviewers-the-right-way-christine-pinheiro-guest-post.html

The right to resell ebooks — major case looms in the Netherlands


Gigaom

A major lawsuit is about to take place in the Netherlands, dragging the issue of the resale of digital media back into European courts.

On Tuesday this week, a local startup called Tom Kabinet opened the virtual doors on its secondhand ebook bookstore. At the moment, it is generally accepted that ebooks cannot be resold, as is the case with music, movies and other digital media.

However, Tom Kabinet is pointing to a 2012 ruling by Europe’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle. That case was about reselling licenses for downloadable software, and the court ruled that – even when the software license explicitly forbids resale – the buyer should have the right to resell that licence, just as they would be allowed to resell a boxed software copy.

“The publishers have asked us to stop operating with…

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Article: The Right Ebook Reader For You


The link below is to an article that considers how to choose the right ebook reader for you.

For more visit:
http://www.technewsdaily.com/4816-what-s-the-best-e-reader-for-you.html

Changing the World: November 29 – Supporting Palestine


I never expected to agree with everything that ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton, suggested. So it comes as no surprise to me to find a suggestion with which I have an issue – so to speak.

The suggestion for today is about buying Palestinian olive oil as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their plight. However, I am loathe to do this.

Why? Is it because I support the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians? No, I do not support the oppression of the Palestinian people. But neither do I support the anti-Israel rhetoric that seems to be continually doing the rounds.

I would love to see an end to the occupation of lands captured during the 1967 war and do not support Israeli settlements in these areas. However, one does need to remember the fact that Israel did not start that 1967 war and the surrounding nations have largely set an agenda since the birth of the modern Israeli state to crush it. There has also been an unending campaign of terror against the Israeli state and Israel has a right to defend itself.

It would be great to see lasting peace in Palestine and for that to happen both sides need to address the important issues I have mentioned here and others. But it is both sides that need to do it – not just Israel and not just the Palestinian people. It is both sides. That is what I support here.

A response to reading ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton

Changing the World: November 28 – Freedom of the Press


Today’s suggestion is to support what is basically the freedom of the press and/or personal expression via the written word especially.

Anyone who has followed my Blogs would know that there have been cases where a Blogger has been imprisoned for his/her views. This has been so of Christians in Islamic countries for example.

Supporting the right of expression via the written word is something I do via my Blogs. I report news of Christian Bloggers and those who witness for Christ that are persecuted.

See also:

www.internationalpen.org.uk

A response to reading ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton

Changing the World: November 20 – Child Rights


The suggestion for today is about protecting the rights of children. Here in Australia it is sometimes said that children have more rights than their parents and to some extent this does appear to be a sound argument. More needs to be done to ensure parental rights in the area of discipline (note I didn’t say child abuse), etc.

However, throughout the world children face regular exploitation and abuse. The more that can be done to prevent this sort of abuse the better.

For more information on the rights of children visit:

www.unicef.org/crc

I will always seek to protect the rights of children wherever I see them threatened. This is something that I believe begins right where you live.

A response to reading ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton