From apps to social media to Netflix to video games, there are so many ways to fill your free time that it can be hard to decide what to do. It’s also easy to overlook one of the most fulfilling and beneficial pastimes ever created. Let’s look at the main benefits of reading and how you can highlight them to your child.
- What are the main benefits of reading books?
- Benefits of reading before bed
- Benefits of reading to children
- Benefits of reading out loud
- Why read? FAQ
What are the main benefits of reading books?
There are many benefits when it comes to reading, some obvious and some surprising.
It’s a gym for your brain
The act of reading is a remarkable mental feat and reading comprehension uses a lot of your brain power. When you’re thumbing through a novel you’re building a whole world of people, places and events in your mind and remembering it all as you follow the story. This gives your imagination and memory a thorough workout and strengthens networks in various other parts of your brain too. 💪
If you’re reading a non-fiction book you’re also getting an in-depth experience of a subject full of facts and details that you need to hold in your mind to follow the arguments of the writer.
It’s well known that your memory improves with use as new memories are created and connected to older ones, making them stronger and easier to recall. Scientists have even found that the other parts of the brain activated by reading can continue to improve days after you’ve stopped reading, meaning even just a little bit of reading can go a long way.
It improves your focus
From Insta stories to tweets to TikTok videos, information is being packaged into ever smaller chunks and researchers believe our attention spans are getting shorter. However, being able to concentrate on one thing for long periods and ignore distractions is essential for school and for work. Reading is an excellent way to improve your concentration skills and the more you read, the better you’ll be able to focus. 🔍
It expands your vocabulary
Reading expands your vocabulary more than any other activity. A rich vocabulary allows you to understand the world in a more sophisticated way. Reading is also great for your grammar skills and lets you communicate your thoughts and ideas more accurately in all areas of your life.
It’s an education
Reading is the key to knowledge. Reading non-fiction books means you can learn about any subject you choose in as much detail as you want. Fiction allows you to learn about how other people all over the world live their lives and to put yourself in their shoes. This is a great way to improve your empathy and learn to approach other people with an open mind.
It helps your problem-solving skills
Reading fiction is also fantastic preparation to learn how to solve various types of problems you may not yet have encountered in your own life. You get the chance to follow the characters through all kinds of situations and find out how they deal with challenges big and small.
Maybe they make the right choices or maybe they don’t, either way, the writer has put a lot of thought and consideration into their story and you can always learn something from a character’s experiences. 🧩
It’s good therapy
Reading about difficult situations characters or real people experience can be hugely beneficial as well. It can be useful to read both fiction and non-fiction books about something you’re going through. Books can act as a type of therapy and help you to feel less alone in your situation.
This bibliotherapy has proven effective in helping people deal with issues such as depression or other mood disorders. The NHS even prescribes books to help people through its Reading Well programme!
Books offer the best value-for-money entertainment anywhere! There’s no expensive equipment to buy, no tickets to pay for and no monthly subscription fee. All you need is a library card for your local branch and you’re good to go!
Your nearest library probably has tens of thousands of different books available, so you’re sure to find a title to hook you. If they don’t have something in particular you're looking for, you can even ask the librarian to order it from another library.
Some libraries even offer ebooks on loan which you can add to your ereader or tablet 🏛️
It’ll inspire your child
If your children regularly see you reading you’ll be setting a good example. Children tend to copy what they see their parents do and they’ll soon be joining you storybook in hand for some quiet time you can enjoy together.
It’s great for stress
It’s not most people’s first idea of a relaxation technique, but reading does an awesome job of helping you manage stress. According to research, reading can lead to a lower heart rate and blood pressure and a calmer mind and just six minutes of reading can bring your stress levels down by more than 66%.
It helps you live longer!
If you still need another reason to commit yourself to read more, how about this: reading can actually help you live longer! Researchers discovered that those who read for half an hour a day had a 23% chance of living longer than people who didn’t read very much. In fact, readers lived around two years longer than non-readers! 🌳
Benefits of reading before bed
So, if we’ve convinced you that you and your family need more reading in your lives, when is the best time to do it? Well, reading at bedtime allows you to kill two birds with one stone.
It helps you get a good night’s sleep
Despite its importance, many of us don’t follow good sleep hygiene and spend the hours before bedtime staring at screens big and small, leading to difficulty falling asleep and affecting the quality of our slumber. The NHS found that one in three of us experience poor sleep.
Choose to read an actual book before bedtime instead of checking your social media or watching Netflix and you can look forward to a better night’s rest. Reading fiction is a good way of relaxing the body and calming your mind and preparing for bed and has been shown to be as relaxing as meditation. 💤
It calms your child
If you treat your child to story time and read to them just before they go to bed you’ll discover that it’s perfect for calming them down and getting them in the right mood for sleep. As a bonus, they’ll get used to sitting still and concentrating on one thing for a long time.
Benefits of reading to children
Children can eventually enjoy all the benefits of reading mentioned above but whether they are too small to read much themselves or they just enjoy listening to you tell them a story, they can get some extra value out of the experience if you read to them regularly yourself.
It gives them a love of learning
If you start by reading to your child you can get them hooked on books and start a habit that will last them throughout their lives and repay your investment over and over again. Children who learn to read for pleasure will go on to enjoy greater academic success throughout their education according to research. 👩🏽🎓
It gives them a head-start
Even if your little one is a toddler who isn’t ready to start reading storybooks by themselves, you can give their literacy skills an early boost and teach them to read by reading to them yourself. They might not understand everything but they’ll pick up enough to get the idea. Let them see the words on the page as you read and encourage them to turn the page when you get to the last word.
By reading to them you’ll be helping them follow the natural rhythms of language, practise their listening skills and expose them to vocabulary they might not get to hear in their day-to-day lives.
It brings you together
Time spent reading to your child is a wonderful chance to create some beautiful, cosy, loving memories together and strengthen your bond. It will become something like a regular adventure you and your child can look forward to doing together and will remember all your lives. 👩👦
It also gives you lots to talk about later and you can have enjoyable discussions about the characters, plots, dilemmas and mysteries you discover during your reading time.
Even when your child starts to read for themselves, you don’t need to stop your shared storytime. You can swap it up, with them taking on the role of the reader as you listen or you can take turns reading to each other.
Benefits of reading out loud
You’ve probably been taught that the best method of reading is in silence. However, research has found that quiet reading isn’t actually always the better option and that there are in fact some benefits of reading out loud. 📢
It helps you understand
It turns out that speaking as you read can help you understand texts better. You probably read aloud more than you realise. If you’ve ever received a slightly convoluted message or email or you’ve tried to read confusing legal jargon, you’ve probably found yourself repeating the words out loud to more clearly understand what was meant. ✅
It helps you remember
Or perhaps you’ve tried to memorise a phone number or the lines of a speech and you automatically started to say the information aloud to help you remember.
Psychologists call this the “production effect” and have discovered that these tactics do actually help people remember things more easily, especially children. 📚
Research from Australia showed that children who were told to read out loud recognized 17% more words compared to children who were asked to read silently. In another study, adults were able to identify 20% more words they had read aloud.
The theory is that because reading aloud is an active process it makes words more distinctive, and so easier to remember. 🧠
Why read? FAQ
Find out the answers to common questions about the benefits of reading.
Why is reading important?
Reading is the most effective way to get information about almost everything and is the key ingredient in learning for school, work and pleasure. On top of this, reading boosts imagination, communication, memory, concentration, and empathy. It also lowers stress levels and leads to a longer life.
Does listening to audiobooks have the same benefits as reading books?
It can be hard to concentrate for a long time and the experience of reading. With a real book, you can quickly scan your eyes back over the page to reread what you’ve missed, this isn’t so easy with an audiobook. A psychology study showed that students who read material did 28% better on a test than those who heard the same material as a podcast.
What are the benefits of reading fiction?
Reading fiction is a useful way to develop your empathy, social skills and emotional intelligence. Fictional stories allow you to put yourself in other people's shoes and see things from various perspectives. In fact, brain scans show that many of the parts of the brain you use to interact with other people are also activated when you’re reading fiction.
What are the benefits of reading poetry?
Poetry is the home of the most creative, imaginative and beautiful examples of language and allows you to connect those powerful lines to real emotions all of us feel. Poetry is also efficient and a good poet can reveal deep ideas with a simple phrase. Reading poetry can also inspire your creativity and write some expressive verse of your own!
Reading is something most of us have been doing all our lives and as a result, we can easily take it for granted, but it’s a great all-around experience for your mind and spirit. So, it's really worth digging out your library card and finding books you and your child can read together.
If your child is having problems with reading, here at GoStudent we have education experts on standby to give you and them a helping hand in improving their literacy skills or any other learning challenges they need support with. Schedule a free trial lesson with GoStudent today!