How Music and Books Influence Brain Development

Mum and child reading a book, Dad and child reading a book together. Lots of musical instruments.
Teacher sitting on the floor reading a children’s book surrounded by 5 young children.
Mum on the floor with baby, enjoying reading a children’s book together.

Reading books to children and using educational toys has shown that this mental stimulation improves children’s cognition and brain development as teenagers.

You have probably already guessed this but interestingly, in a 20-year research study led by Martha Farah, director of the Centre for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, the age of four was highlighted as a key time for cognitive stimulation and determined a more developed cortex of the brain 15 years later.

She states “It really does support the idea that those early years are especially influential.” Participants in the study were tracked from the age of four years old and details of cognitive stimulation were recorded – e.g., whether they had access to toys which taught concepts such as numbers, colours, letters, and real or toy musical instruments".

At the age of 19 the participants were given brain scans and language tests. The study found that the children who were surrounded by books and educational toys had better brain development and better language comprehension.

A clinical lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, Andrea Danese, proposes that this study supports the concept that a nurturing and stimulating home environment is influential in developing social, cognitive and emotional skills as “parents can lay the foundations for their teenage children to take good decisions, for example by promoting their ability to retain and elaborate information, or to balance the desire for immediate reward with the one for greater, long-term goals since a young age.”

No doubt something parents instinctively know and understand but wonderful when validated by scientific research! Keep reading to your children and be involved in providing stimulating and educational toys for your little ones.

You can see some of our educational and fun learning BOOKS AND TOYS or SONGS or VIDEOS

Two books previewed here – click on the PLAY button in the centre of the image

Thank You!

To all the people who support Rainbows and Sunshine by sponsoring, partnering, giving time and expertise, or volunteering – thank you for helping this program of donating quality children’s products to children who are sick or disadvantaged. Your support enables these ongoing gifts and ‘Spreading the Joy’ to kids-in-need.