Encouraging Cognitive Development with Reading

Jan 30, 2018

Preschool-years children are at a prime stage in their lives for cognitive development. One way that teachers can help foster this development is through reading children’s books out loud to the class. Children’s books can help with cognitive development in a myriad of ways. Here are just a few things you can do to use reading as a tool to further development.

Reasoning and Problem Solving

As problems are introduced in a children’s book, you can use it as an opportunity to guide children through the reasoning and problem-solving process. You can do this by asking questions to the class about the plot of the book and what they would do to work through the problems the characters face. This encourages them to think through a hypothetical situation to arrive at a conclusion.

Symbolic Play

Books are a great way to encourage make-believe. Have students act out scenes from the book using everyday classroom objects as props – for example, a tissue box could become a treasure chest. This stimulates the imagination and fosters creativity.

Metacognitive Knowledge

Metacognitive knowledge is when you think about your own thinking. You can encourage this in preschoolers by asking them to think about the book after it’s over – for example, to remember plot elements or a lesson they learned.


It’s easy to play a memory game that’s based on the book to encourage both short- and long-term memory. Give students an easy quiz after the book is over to remember what it was about. At the end of the week, look back on the books you read as a class and ask students to remember what happened in each.

Social Cognition

Children can learn a lot about social understanding from books. Focus on books that show interactions between characters and discuss these interactions with the class. What interactions are positive, and what interactions cause negative outcomes such as hurt feelings? Students will learn to emulate the positive interactions.

Reading is an important aspect of children’s growth. By reading to children who are too young to read on their own, you can encourage cognitive development and critical thinking skills that they will carry with them for life.