The Benefits of Reading

Reading is a pastime that has gone out of favor in the past decade, as new forms of media have taken over as entertainment. According to a study by the National Literacy Trust, only 26% of people under the age of 18 spend time each day to read. Furthermore, the percentage of kids who read for pleasure or out of self-interest steadily declines in the third grade, which is considered an important year for a child’s development. As a teen, it is incredibly important to read, and teens are doing so less than ever. Although everyone knows that books help you learn new things, this blog will explain the many other benefits of reading daily, and how you can incorporate reading into your life.


How Reading Can Help You


One of the most obvious benefits of reading is an enhanced vocabulary. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between children reading and having a broader vocabulary. Although having a wide vocabulary may seem like an unnecessary skill, it provides many benefits. Having an increased vocabulary allows for stronger communication, and according to a poll by Cengage, 69% of employers considered effective communication to be a top skill when hiring. Broadening your lexicon through reading books and finding new words in context is a surefire way to do so.


Reading also can help mentally as well. Picking up a book which you enjoy and spending time with it each day can help reduce stress, blood pressure, heart rate, and has been shown to help those feeling down. A study by the Reading Agency showed that periodic reading can increase self-esteem and slightly decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are also plenty of long term benefits that reading has on the mind. For one, reading strengthens the brain, as it creates new connections and makes your neural pathways stronger. Also, reading as a source of entertainment can take you away from the TV, which can be detrimental to the brain after prolonged use. There have also been studies showing that engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as reading throughout one’s life can decrease the development of plaques in the brain which lead to dementia.


In addition to the mental health boosts reading can provide, it also assists in critical thinking skills. The term “critical thinking” is a broad term which may not mean much at first glance, but it is an important skill to have. Critical thinking is essentially the ability to understand scenarios at a complex level and ask deeper questions. Correlation has been shown between consistent reading and higher level thinking.


Finally, reading has been proven to improve empathy skills. Reading literature that dives into the subjects’ inner feelings and thoughts assists in gaining an understanding of other people, as shown by a study by David Kidd and Emanuele Castano from the New School for Social Research. Being empathetic has many benefits, such as being better in social situations, helping others in need, and being more desirable as an employee.


Getting Into Reading


Getting into reading feels daunting, and may be something you feel too lazy to do. Here are some ways you can try to fit in reading into your schedule.

Setting goals for reading is the most common way to ensure that you read. Whether it be reading a new book every month, or reading a chapter or 30 minutes each day, setting a goal gives you a reason to read and something to strive towards when reading.


Joining a book club or finding a friend to read with can be the push that you need to be invested in reading. The social aspect of it pushes you to read along with others, and discussing the book can immerse you even further in the book and appreciate it at a deeper level.


The most important thing you can do, however, is to read books that you will enjoy. There may be a societal pressure to read a certain kind of book, but find what captivates you the most, and reading will not feel like a chore, but rather a treat.


All in all, reading is immensely beneficial to your life both in the short and long term. It is something that anyone can do, and anyone can enjoy. If you want to create change in your life, heading to the library and picking up a book is one of the easiest, most effective things to do.


Sources


Cain, Kate, and Jane Oakhill. “Matthew Effects in Young Readers: Reading Comprehension and Reading Experience Aid Vocabulary Development.” Journal of Learning Disabilities, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21772058/.


Kidd, David Comer, and Emanuele Castano. “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 18 Oct. 2013, science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/377.abstract.


McGuire, Jen. “A New Report Says Kids Are Reading Less, But Things Aren't Hopeless.” Romper, Romper, 19 Mar. 2019, www.romper.com/p/kids-are-reading-less-according-to-a-new-report-but-parents-might-be-able-to-turn-things-around-16968018.


“New Survey: Demand for ‘Uniquely Human Skills’ Increases Even as Technology and Automation Replace Some Jobs.” Cengage, 16 Jan. 2019, news.cengage.com/upskilling/new-survey-demand-for-uniquely-human-skills-increases-even-as-technology-and-automation-replace-some-jobs/.


Stiskal, Doreen, et al. “Stress Management Strategies For Students: The Immediate Effects Of Yoga, Humor, And Reading On Stress.” Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 2009, www.researchgate.net/publication/229431397_Stress_Management_Strategies_For_Students_The_Immediate_Effects_Of_Yoga_Humor_And_Reading_On_Stress.


Wilson, Robert S., et al. “Life-Span Cognitive Activity, Neuropathologic Burden, and Cognitive Aging.” Neurology, Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on Behalf of the American Academy of Neurology, 23 July 2013, n.neurology.org/content/81/4/314.short?sid=a1bfa954-8377-4c64-bb4f.



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