Social Benefits of Reading

A recent literature review commissioned by Britain’s Reading Agency sheds new light on some little-reported social benefits of reading.  Most people understand the educational implications of the ability to read fluently, but the benefits go well beyond education. 

The largely unseen benefits of reading include:

  • improvement in overall thinking skills
  • better understanding of the world
  • better understanding of emotions and development of emotional vocabulary
  • increased social conscience and empathy
  • entertainment and relaxation
  • escaping daily problems
  • increased social interaction
  • improvement in imagination
  • improvement in relaxation and mood regulation
  • improvement in communication abilities

And, by the way, these benefits apply to adults as well as to children.  One caveat of this research is that these benefits are developed more readily if the reading is happening for pleasure rather than simply because it is required.  So the question becomes how to get children reading for pleasure.  The research provided three recommendations. 

  • adequate access to books
  • parents taking a proactive role in encouraging reading for pleasure
  • teachers providing guidance and encouragement

Hopefully you are already doing all of these; if not, there is no time like the present to get started!