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给孩子讲睡前故事,比你想得更重要

更新时间:2015-8-24 10:01:43 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Bedtime Stories for Young Brains
给孩子讲睡前故事,比你想得更重要

A little more than a year ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement saying that all pediatric primary care should include literacy promotion, starting at birth.

一年多以前,美国儿科学会(American Academy of Pediatrics)发布了一份政策声明,建议所有的儿科初级护理应包括促进读写能力的内容,从婴儿出生时开始。

That means pediatricians taking care of infants and toddlers should routinely be advising parents about how important it is to read to even very young children. The policy statement, which I wrote with Dr. Pamela C. High, included a review of the extensive research on the links between growing up with books and reading aloud, and later language development and school success.

这意味着,照料婴幼儿的儿科医师应该习惯性地告诉家长,给孩子朗读十分重要,就连襁褓中的孩子也不例外。这份政策声明由帕梅拉·C·海伊博士(Pamela C. High)和本人合作撰写,综合了诸多研究成果,其中探讨的都是婴幼儿成长过程中书本和大声诵读行为的伴随与后来的语言能力和学业成就之间的联系。

But while we know that reading to a young child is associated with good outcomes, there is only limited understanding of what the mechanism might be. Two new studies examine the unexpectedly complex interactions that happen when you put a small child on your lap and open a picture book.

不过,虽然我们知道给婴幼儿读书与良好的结果有关,但对于其中的机制究竟如何,我们的了解非常有限。现在,有两项新的研究探讨了将婴幼儿放在腿上打开绘本朗读的时候发生的互动情况,而这种互动出乎意料地复杂。

This month, the journal Pediatrics published a study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brain activity in 3-to 5-year-old children as they listened to age-appropriate stories. The researchers found differences in brain activation according to how much the children had been read to at home.

本月,《儿科学》期刊(Pediatrics)发表了一篇研究论文,其中采用功能性磁共振成像技术来研究3到5岁的幼儿在听到适龄故事时的脑部活动。研究人员发现,根据孩童在家听到故事的多少,会产生脑部活跃度的差异。

Children whose parents reported more reading at home and more books in the home showed significantly greater activation of brain areas in a region of the left hemisphere called the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. This brain area is “a watershed region, all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation,” said the lead author, Dr. John S. Hutton, a clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

如果家长表示更多地在家读书及家中书本较多,那么孩童左脑的一个名为“顶、颞和枕叶皮层联合区”的地方就会显示出大得多的活跃度。文章的第一作者约翰·S·赫顿博士(John S. Hutton)是辛辛那提儿童医院医疗中心(Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center)的临床研究员。他表示,这片大脑区域“是个分水岭区域,与多感官的整合有关,会整合声音,然后是视觉刺激。”

This region of the brain is known to be very active when older children read to themselves, but Dr. Hutton notes that it also lights up when younger children are hearing stories. What was especially novel was that children who were exposed to more books and home reading showed significantly more activity in the areas of the brain that process visual association, even though the child was in the scanner just listening to a story and could not see any pictures.

人们已经知道,当儿童自行阅读时,大脑的这片区域会非常活跃,但赫顿指出,婴幼儿听别人讲故事的时候,它也会活跃起来。这项研究中尤为新奇的地方在于,能接触到更多书本及在家能听到更多故事的孩童,处理视觉联系的大脑部位也会显示出高得多的活跃度,就算他们待在扫描仪中,仅仅听到了故事,并不能看到任何画面。

“When kids are hearing stories, they’re imagining in their mind’s eye when they hear the story,” said Dr. Hutton. “For example, ‘The frog jumped over the log.’ I’ve seen a frog before, I’ve seen a log before, what does that look like?”

“孩子听人讲故事的时候,会在收听的同时在头脑中想象,”赫顿说。“比方说,听到‘青蛙跳过了木头。’他们会想,我见过青蛙,也见过木头,那会是什么样的呢?”

The different levels of brain activation, he said, suggest that children who have more practice in developing those visual images, as they look at picture books and listen to stories, may develop skills that will help them make images and stories out of words later on.

他表示,大脑活跃度的这种差异显示,那些通过读绘本和听故事在形成视觉影像上获得更多练习的孩童,或许能习得特定技能,而这些技能将帮助他们后来将文字转化为画面和情节。

“It helps them understand what things look like, and may help them transition to books without pictures,” he said. “It will help them later be better readers because they’ve developed that part of the brain that helps them see what is going on in the story.”

“这有助于他们理解事物的样子,也许还能帮助他们过渡到阅读没有图画的书本,”他说。“这能令他们在日后建立起较强的阅读能力,因为他们已经开发了脑袋里面负责帮助理解故事情节的部分。”

Dr. Hutton speculated that the book may also be stimulating creativity in a way that cartoons and other screen-related entertainments may not.

赫顿推测,书本也许还能刺激创意,这是动画片等以屏幕为媒介的娱乐未必能做到的。

“When we show them a video of a story, do we short circuit that process a little?” he asked. “Are we taking that job away from them? They’re not having to imagine the story; it’s just being fed to them.”

“当我们透过视频向孩子叙述故事的时候,我们是否走了捷径,把那个过程稍微缩短了呢? ”他反问道。“我们是否在夺走他们该做的事?他们不用自己想象故事内容了,因为故事已经堆到了他们面前。”

We know that it is important that young children hear language, and that they need to hear it from people, not from screens. Unfortunately, there are serious disparities in how much language children hear — most famously demonstrated in a Kansas study that found poor children heard millions fewer words by age 3.

我们知道,让婴幼儿聆听语言是很重要的,而且他们需要从真人那里听到,而不是透过屏幕。不幸的是,在听到多少语言上,儿童间存在严重的差距——最著名的例子就是堪萨斯大学的一项研究,其中发现,从出生到3岁,贫穷孩子比一般孩子少听数百万个字词。

But it turns out that reading to — and with — young children may amplify the language they hear more than just talking. In August, Psychological Science reported on researchers who studied the language content of picture books. They put together a selection from teacher recommendations, Amazon best sellers, and other books that parents are likely to be reading at bedtime.

然而,事实证明,比起单纯的说话,向幼儿朗读和跟他们一块儿阅读或许更能增加他们听到的语言的丰富性。在今年8月,《心理科学》(Psychological Science)刊登了一项关于绘本的文字内容的研究。研究人员挑选出教师推荐、亚马逊畅销书和家长可能会在睡前读给孩子听的一系列绘本,并把这些书一并研究。

In comparing the language in books to the language used by parents talking to their children, the researchers found that the picture books contained more “unique word types.”

通过比较绘本里的文字和家长向孩子说话时使用的语言,研究人员发现,绘本含有更多“独特的字词种类”。

“Books contain a more diverse set of words than child-directed speech,” said the lead author, Jessica Montag, an assistant research psychologist at the University of California, Riverside. “This would suggest that children who are being read to by caregivers are hearing vocabulary words that kids who are not being read to are probably not hearing.”

“比起儿向言语,绘本的字词组合更多元化,”这篇研究论文的第一作者杰西卡·蒙塔格(Jessica Montag)说。她是加州大学河滨分校(University of California, Riverside)的心理学助理研究员。“这可能说明,那些由监护人向他们朗读绘本的孩子,能听到其他孩子大概没听过的词汇。“

So reading picture books with young children may mean that they hear more words, while at the same time, their brains practice creating the images associated with those words — and with the more complex sentences and rhymes that make up even simple stories.

因此,跟幼儿一块儿读绘本可能意味着他们能听到更丰富的词汇,而与此同时,他们的大脑会练习想象与那些词汇相关的画面——甚至用一些较复杂的句子和童谣,并以此建构出一些简单的故事。

I have spent a great deal of my career working with Reach Out and Read, which works through medical providers to encourage parents to enjoy books with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers. This year, our 5,600 program sites will give away 6.8 million books (including many to children in poverty), along with guidance to more than 4.5 million children and their parents. (The group also provided some support to Dr. Hutton’s research.)

在本人的职业生涯中,我花了很多时间与“幼儿阅读推广计划” (Reach Out and Read)合作。这是一个通过医疗机构鼓励家长与幼儿享受阅读乐趣的项目。今年,我们的5600个项目实行地将会送出680万本书(其中很多会送给贫困儿童),这些地点亦会给予超过450万个孩子和父母指导。(这一计划还为赫顿的研究提供了一些支援。)

Studies of Reach Out and Read show that participating parents read more and children’s preschool vocabularies improve when parents read more. But even as someone who is already one of the choir, I am fascinated by the ways that new research is teasing out the complexity and the underlying mechanisms of something which can seem easy, natural and, well, simple. When we bring books and reading into checkups, we help parents interact with their children and help children learn.

“幼儿阅读推广计划”进行的研究显示,当参与的家长多读书,孩子的学前词汇量便会随之增多。新研究从一些看似容易、理所当然和简单的事情里,梳理出当中的复杂性和背后的机制。尽管已经是项目的一员,我还是被研究的种种发现给深深地吸引住了。当我们在儿科服务中引入书籍及阅读的时候,我们不仅促进了家长和儿童的互动,也帮助了儿童的学习。

“I think that we’ve learned that early reading is more than just a nice thing to do with kids,” Dr. Hutton said. “It really does have a very important role to play in building brain networks that will serve children long-term as they transition from verbal to reading.”

“我想我们已经了解到,早期阅读不仅是一件家长和孩子可以从中享受乐趣的事,”赫顿说。“这对于建构大脑网路的确非常重要。当儿童从口语过渡至书面阅读时,他们会长期用到大脑网路。”

And as every parent who has read a bedtime story knows, this is all happening in the context of face-time, of skin-to-skin contact, of the hard-to-quantify but essential mix of security and comfort and ritual. It’s what makes toddlers demand the same story over and over again, and it’s the reason parents tear up (especially those of us with adult children) when we occasionally happen across a long-ago bedtime book.

正如跟孩子读睡前故事的每个家长都知道的那样,这个过程包括面对面和肢体接触,以及一些难以量化却至关重要的安全感、舒适感和仪式感。正因如此,孩童才会不断地要求阅读同一个故事,也正因如此,家长(特别是我们这些孩子已长大成人了的家长)才会在偶然间看见一本很久以前的睡前读物时不禁眼眶湿润。

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