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Young Readers, Tomorrow's Leaders?

Study suggests link between early reading skills and later intelligence

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Young children with strong reading skills may be on a fast track to a brighter future, a new study suggests.

Kids with above average reading skills may have higher intelligence levels as they get older, according to British researchers.

The study included 1,890 identical twins from Great Britain who were given reading and intelligence tests when they were ages 7, 9, 10, 12 and 16. Because each pair of twins had the same genes and home environment, any differences between them had to be due to factors they didn't share, such as the quality of their teachers or friends who encouraged reading, the researchers suggested.

Differences in reading skills between the twins were linked to later differences in intelligence, including areas such as vocabulary and reasoning. The reading abilities associated with later enhanced intelligence were evident by age 7. This suggests that even early reading skills may affect a child's intellectual development, the study authors said.

The study findings were published July 24 in the journal Child Development.

"If, as our results imply, reading causally influences intelligence, the implications for educators are clear," study leader Stuart Ritchie, a research fellow in psychology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a journal news release. "Children who don't receive enough assistance in learning to read may also be missing out on the important, intelligence-boosting properties of literacy."

The findings may also help to explain why different children in the same family can have different levels of intelligence, even though they share genes, living conditions, and parents, the researchers said.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and King's College London. It was funded by the the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the U.K. Medical Research Council, and the European Research Council.

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