While reading to grandchildren develops their minds, new research indicates that the mental benefits are shared by the grandparents, too.
Reading is Connecting Time
For years, there has been universal agreement that reading to children impacts cognitive development. Research already notes the importance of reading together to create a bonding experience across generations that assists children’s cognitive development. By reading to children, you help them understand real-world objects and develop an appreciation of the importance of language, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read1.
Researchers at Melbourne University2. suggests that a grandparent in a socially active lifestyle benefits too. Enhancing the grandchild-grandparent connection leads to gains on both sides. An active lifestyle by grandparents who are socially active may be beneficial to cognitive aging. Even brief periods of increased cognitive stimulation can improve older adults’ problem solving and flexible thinking.
Bring your own passions and interest into reading time.
Consider reading materials that bring your personal interests and experiences into the conversation. If you love wildlife, share photos of animals, and talk about what makes them different. If you like gardening, talk about different plants. If you like to cook, share the ingredients that go into favorite family recipes. Children of all ages will love reading about food and then joining you in the kitchen to watch – or participate – in the creation. Read aloud to your child and point to the pictures on the page, saying the name of the objects that appear. This provides your child with two sources2 of information: an understanding of real-world objects and an understanding of the importance of language.
Create Shared Experience That Lasts a Lifetime
These shared experiences can build a foundation for future experiences like visiting a national park or zoo, gardening together, or cooking together. It will be the basis for lifelong memories, and you may instill a love of your favorite activities for future generations.
Majsak is the author of ABC Animals! published by Dolphin Books/Printers Row
Publishing Group and is also available on Amazon. In 2023, ABC Animals! was
named one of “18 Stunning New Animal and Nature Fiction Books” by
Imagination Soup. In 2023, ABC Animals! was selected by the Illinois
Reading Council (IRC) as one of 36 titles and one of six books in the Birth to
Four age category for the 2023 Illinois Reads program.
1 High Speed Training: www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/why-is-reading-important-for-children/
2 National Library of Medicine; National Center of Biotechnology Information. Age and flexible thinking: an experimental demonstration of the beneficial effects of increased cognitively stimulating activity on fluid intelligence in healthy older adults by Lesley J Tranter 1, Wilma Koutstaal
Photo: Angela Nunes