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Child Development: Stuffed Animal Sleepovers Help Improve Reading Abilities In Young Children

Update Date: Mar 01, 2017 07:43 PM EST

Reading is one of the important skills parents and educators should development especially in young children. Previous studies have shown that reading ability plays an integral in the development of language skills and imagination in children. In the latest in child development studies, researchers from Okayama University have found that stuffed animal sleepovers help improve the reading abilities in young children.

The study, recently published online in Heliyon, sought to determine if stuffed animal sleepovers conducted in libraries worldwide are effective in improving the reading abilities of young children who participated in the program. In particular, the study investigated whether stuffed animal sleepover programs improved the reading abilities of the children and how long the effect of the sleepover program on the children's reading abilities lasts.

The Japanese researchers found that the stuffed animal sleepover program has a positive effect on the reading abilities of young children. However, the effect of the sleepover program usually diminishes by the third day.

But the study did find an effective strategy help rekindle and sustain the children's interest in reading and in books and that is by reminding them of their stuffed animal sleepover experience with photographs taken during the sleepover program.

The researchers of the study observed forty-two preschool children who attended a stuffed animal sleepover in a library. The stuffed animal sleepover program typically involves young children bringing their stuffed animals to the library and leaving them in the care of library staff. Upon the departure of the children from the library, the library staff and volunteers take photos of the stuffed animals engaged in various activities in the library.

The next day, as the children pick up their stuffed animals, the photos showing the different activities their stuffed animals got into during their stay in the library the night before are also given to the children. The library staff and volunteers then introduce the children to the books their stuffed animals supposedly selected the night before. The children are then told to read the selected books to their stuffed animals.

The stuffed animal sleepover program was first introduced in Pennsylvania in 2007 and interest grew worldwide since then. The study conducted by Okayama University is the first to scientifically prove the benefits of the stuffed animal sleepover program.

Besides helping improve the reading abilities of young children, the researchers observed that a new behavioral pattern emerged from the children when they started reading the books to their stuffed animals. This further develops the children into active readers.

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