Mirror neurons and the importance of books

LANGUAGE AS A TOOL TO STRENGTHEN THE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHILDREN 

Mirror neurons are special nerve cells in the brain that make humans compassionate and responsive creatures. These cells react not only when we experience suffering, pain or joy ourselves, but also when we perceive these sensations in someone else through verbal and non-verbal communication. An important way to develop these is through shared books and stories.

From birth, humans are equipped with mirror neurons but the ability to reflect does not develop on its own. A child needs a partner and communication which is understood by them. A story with diversity sensitive characters and content can provoke thoughts and discussions with the child. In toddlers, it is the family who activates the possibility of mirror actions. The child must first learn to understand and feel the feelings of others. Researchers assume that mirror neurons are fully developed between the ages of 3 and 4 years. From this point on, child has their own, independent view of the world.

SUPPORTING A LOVE OF BOOKS
Make trips to the local library together! Explore what books you want to borrow and ensure that your child has a say in which books they are interested in. You may notice certain trends in which books your child likes which you can use to supplement other activities. If your child likes books about trains, you could play with a train set together and take a short trip on the train just for fun!

BOOKS WITHOUT WORDS
Wordless picture books allow children develop their own dialogue for the story. Encourage your child to talk not only about what they see in the images but what might happen next or how the characters are feeling.

BOOKS IN YOUR HOME LANGUAGE
You may struggle to find books in your home language in your local library or bookstore. Don’t be afraid to hire a book and retell the story in your own words. Alternatively, find out which books your child enjoys during kindergarten story time and try to find the same books online.