Interactive reading with children (dialogic reading) has been shown to have a significant benefit for cognitive development in high-income countries. A paper in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry looks at the effect of a dialogic book sharing programme on infant language and attention in a deprived community in South Africa.
In a randomised controlled trial, 91 pairs of caregivers and infants (aged 14-16 months) were assigned to either a training programme on dialogic book-sharing or a control group, who received the training 10 weeks later. Assessments were made at the start of the study and immediately after an eight-week training programme. Caregivers reported that infants in the intervention group could not only understand and vocalise more words than those in the control group but also made substantially greater gains in measures of sustained attention.
Source: The Impact of Dialogic Book-sharing Training on Infant Language and Attention: A Randomized Controlled Trial in a Deprived South African Community (2014) Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry