How Reading Can Boost Children’s Working Memory

About two weeks ago, I took my son to the local library for a story time program. As I was walking, I passed by the book, The Working Memory Advantage: Train Your Brain to Function Stronger, Smarter, Faster by Tracy and Ross Alloway. This title immediately caught my attention because I love reading books on how to use the brain to its fullest capacity. I checked the book out and started reading it that night.

I learned so much from this book. One detail that stuck with me was the power of working memory. Did you know that it is more important than IQ? As always, I want to share what I learned with you and its benefits to young children.

Let’s Get Started!

One of best ways to improve working memory is to read. Working memory is one’s ability to process information. This means focusing on the information or making decisions about it. A person with great working memory can manipulate information and reformulate it.

Let’s apply this to children. If a child is in school or participating in an extracurricular activity with a group, working memory can help them inhibit distracting information, like their classmates whispering near them. It will also help them keep track of where they are in a multistep task. Furthermore, children with good working memory can access information, like numbers or words, to complete an assignment. It allows children to hold information in their mind and complete tasks quicker.

Other Ways Working Memory Helps Children

  • It helps children think fast on their feet.
  • Take smarter risks
  • Make smarter judgement calls
  • Adapt to new situations
  • Stay motivated to achieve long-term goals
  • Follow a moral compass like doing the right thing in social situations

Working Memory is Better than IQ

Have you noticed that many people with below average IQ scores became great business men and women, bestselling authors, or innovative inventors? IQ is not the best predictor of lifetime success, especially not in our current times.

Thanks to search engines like Google, we no longer need to rely on knowledge such as facts, dates, and names. These types of facts are associated with IQ. Intelligence today is measured by being able to put those facts together, organize the information, and do something constructive with it. IQ is what you know and working memory memory is what you can do with what you know.

The facts below about working memory versus IQ may be shocking to you…

  • A good working memory is the best advantage in school and is related to good grades.
  • Kids with good IQ scores don’t necessarily have good working memories.
  • An average or even high IQ does not necessarily give children the tools for success in the classroom and beyond.

So let’s see how reading can help children improve working memory

Reading requires working memory because you recall information, anticipate what is coming next, and interpret words and sentences. Challenge your child and boost their working memory by reading more difficult books and stories.

For Children Ages 2 to 5

  • Read aloud to children and challenge them by reading new stories.
  • For 2-3 year olds, ask them facts about the story.
  • This will make them use their working memory to review what they know about the story.
  • If you read to children at early ages, you’ll be surprised at what they can analyze and make sense of.
  • Ask your 4 year old to give their opinions on the motivations of the characters.
  • For example, ask your 4 year old the following question: Why do you think the character ignored their friend?
  • These types of questions will help your child stretch their speculations.
  • For 5 year olds, if they can read, ask them to read simple and short stories on their own occasionally.
  • If the 5 year old cannot read, ask them to picture walk.
  • Picture walk means to look at the images of the story and predict what it is about.
  • Bonus Tip: For children ages 6-10, read harder material to them.
  • In doing this, you will stretch their minds and the easier books they read on their own will seem less difficult.

I highly recommend purchasing or borrowing The Working Memory Advantage: Train Your Brain to Function Stronger, Smarter, Faster by Tracy and Ross Alloway from the library. It will open your mind to the brain’s many possibilities!

I hope this helps!


Our books are available on Amazon, “Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play,” “Fun Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Write, and “Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.


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