Well, Kafka’s not really age appropriate and neither’s Godot. But a new psych study shows that the human brain works incredibly hard to make sense of nonsense and in the process our thinking improves. Read more here.

While the study did not involve children directly, I find the results interesting for those of us who read to children. Nonsense has been a part of children’s stories and books for well over a hundred years–whether it’s Mother Goose rhymes, Rash’s Are You a Horse?, or Shel Silverstein’s poetry. In fact, I’d wager a substantial number of children’s picture books are based either on straight out & out nonsense or have at least an element of “this isn’t quite right, is it?” built into them.

Now obviously, no one knew of this study when those stories were written. So why have we as humans spent so much time and energy writing them and sharing them? It’s because our brains like the nonsense! We like figuring it out!

And the more we expose children to the silliness, nonsense, and off kilter humor found in stories, the more their little neurons are wiring and firing, over and over. And the more they look at the world around them with a wider and wider scope, making more and more connections.

And they just think it’s fun! 😉

Now where’s my copy of Jabberwocky,