The benefits of reading start with the first book a baby hears and continue into childhood and throughout the child's life.
If you've had a look around this site, you'll know that I'm passionate about reading. I read a lot and have done so ever since I first learned how to do it. I read to my three children from the time they were born and they've grown into articulate, smart young adults who made the most of their educational opportunities and have the tools to function well in society.
Now I'm a teacher and I spend my days teaching little humans how to read. I absolutely love it and am now more convinced than ever that the ability to read well is the key to achieving the things that make life worth living: strong relationships, fulfilling careers and helping others.
So here, in a nutshell, are the 10 Benefits of Reading: the Top 10 reasons why reading is important and why children – and adults! - should read often and widely.
1. Kids who read often and widely get better at it
This is pretty much just common sense.
After all, practice makes perfect in almost everything we humans do and reading is no different from anything else.
2. Reading exercises our brains
Reading is a much more complex task for the human brain than, say, watching TV is.
Reading strengthens brain connections and actually builds new connections.
3. Reading improves concentration
Again, this is a bit of a no-brainer.
Children have to sit still and quietly so they can focus on the story when they’re reading.
If they read regularly, they develop the ability to do this for longer periods.
4. Reading teaches children about the world around them
Through reading, children learn about people, places and events outside their own experience. They are exposed to ways of life, ideas and beliefs about the world which may be different from those which surround them.
This learning is important for its own sake however it also builds a store of background knowledge which helps younger children learn to read confidently and well.
5. Reading improves a child’s vocabulary and leads to more highly-developed language skills
This is because children learn new words as they read but also because they unconsciously absorb information as they read about things like how to structure sentences and how to use words and language effectively.
6. Reading develops a child’s imagination
is because when we read our brains translate the descriptions we read
of people, places and things into pictures. When we’re engaged in a
story, we’re also imagining how the characters are feeling. We use our
own experiences to imagine how we would feel in the same situation.
7. Reading helps kids develop empathy
is something I’ve only recently realised but it makes sense. As my
fifteen-year-old son said to me when we were discussing it: ‘Of course it does because you’re identifying with the character in the story so you’re feeling what he’s feeling.’
8. Children who read do better at school
And they don’t just do better at subjects like reading, English and history. They do better at all subjects and they do better all the way through school.
9. Reading is a great form of entertainment
A paperback book or an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle doesn’t take up much space so you can take it anywhere and you’ll never be lonely or bored if you have a book in your bag.
You can read while waiting in a queue, while waiting for a friend who’s running late or during a flight delay at an airport.
10. Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind
This is an important point because these days we seem to have forgotten how to relax and especially how to be silent.
The constant movement, flashing lights and noise which bombard our senses when we’re watching TV, looking at a computer or playing an electronic game are actually quite stressful for our brains.
When we read, we read in silence and the black print on a white page is much less stressful for our eyes and brains.
So there you have it – the Top 10 benefits of reading!