Childhood stories are proven to affect brain development. Yes, that means you are more likely to be brighter than the average person if your parents followed the tradition of reading you nightly bedtime stories. Whether you grew up on Disney fairytale stories, picture books, or classic tales, you have expanded your imagination on a neurological level.
Firsthand, I have experienced this. When I was five years old, my father would read to me what might be considered advanced stories at my age, such as The Chronicles of Narnia. My sister, on the other hand, was not read to; she had a shorter attention span and would often fall asleep as my father read to her. So, the ol’ process of nature versus nurture took place. Since I grew up on childhood stories, I developed much differently than my sister did. Yes, she is very bright, but she is not book smart. She does not enjoy school, but she enjoys life and knows what to do to be successful. While I enjoy school and the exchange of memories and stories, my sister does not, and that’s okay. But the difference is huge, which, as we grew up into our pre-teen years, created an undeniable divide between us.
Hearing stories at an early age help a person develop behaviorally and emotionally; specifically, stories significantly influence the power of empathy on a person. According to Dr. Zipora Shechtman, the author of various books regarding the psychology of children, childhood stories train young brains to feel more immersed within others’ emotions and feelings. She writes, “Through the imaginative process that reading involves, children have the opportunity to do what they often cannot do in real life—become thoroughly involved in the inner lives of others, better understand them, and eventually become more aware of themselves.” If you’ve had a love for stories since you were a child and have, on a certain level, felt more connected to those around you than your peers, then this is why: childhood stories enhance a person’s interconnectedness with the world around them.
Outside of behavioral and emotional processes, storytelling also affects biological, neurological processes. Stories entice thoughts of creativity to zap along neurons, allowing a child to imagine a story using his or her own imaginative perception; this process is known as neutral coupling. Early creative thinking stimulates the brain in a way that paves the way for future, healthy brain development. In addition, well-told, complicated stories stimulate all different parts of the brain, including the Broca’s area. This area’s functions are linked to speech and language development, exposing children to important vocabulary and granting them the ability to express themselves through words, instead of overly-relying on body language. When younger children are introduced to a range of storytelling, they are most likely to develop well-cultivated minds.
What were some of your favorite stories as a child? What are your thoughts on the correlation between storytelling and brain development? Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you!
Picture retrieved from Notey, a blog/news source