Wednesday, June 13, 2018

New Research on the Value of Picture Books and the Way Kids' Brains Respond to Screen Media

A new study by Dr. John S. Hutton shows how children's brains respond to hearing stories told in three different formats, and may lend support for the idea that the best format for sharing a story with a child is reading a picture book to them! Kids's brains were imaged while hearing a story with no pictures, hearing a story with pictures, and hearing a story that is completely animated, and the findings show that hearing a story with illustrations (but not animated ones) promotes the most interconnectivity among brain regions.

This could have fascinating implications for makers of tablet storybook apps, most if which tend to be a little too heavily animated to be encouraging of a child's imagination. At the very least, it should be good news to everyone who promotes illustrated books for kids, because the pictures give a child "limited visual scaffolding assisting the child while still encouraging active imagery and reflection." Basically, the pictures should give a child something to focus on while developing their listening skills, but don't have too much going on to take away from hearing the story.

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