Why we should take time to read for pleasure

Mrs Jenny Hill, Learning Resources Manager

16 October 2019

No time to read for pleasure?

We live in a high-speed world. Technology controls, tracks and takes up an ever-increasing amount of our day. So how do we ensure that we stay healthy and mentally well, that we find some calm and peace in this frenetic world, but equally that we perform academically to the best of our ability?

We all know the benefits of exercise, eating healthily and having face-to-face social interaction but have we stopped to consider the very real benefits of taking time to pick up a book?

Reading for pleasure is good for your academic achievement

It’s when we develop that love of books, that desire to curl up and get lost in other worlds and lives that the magic starts to happen. According to research carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. A 2013 study from the Institute of Education found that children who read for pleasure, or who read at home, do much better in spelling, vocabulary and even maths tests right up to the age of 16.

The body of research that supports the academic benefits of reading for pleasure is compelling, but the benefits don’t end there.

Reading for pleasure is good for your mental health

A study by Dr Josie Billington, the Deputy Director at the Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool makes some exciting conclusions. Regular readers feel happier about themselves and their lives. They are more inspired and motivated to make positive changes in their lives. Billington’s study also reveals that reading can lead to a more tolerant and empathetic society where we have a deeper understanding of, and respect for, other people and cultures.

The positive effects that reading can have on society are widely documented and what has been made abundantly
clear by this research is that books can help us to enjoy the little things in life and be happier in ourselves; a useful
and timely reminder for all of us to draw on the many benefits that only reading can deliver.

Dr Josie Billington

Making time to read

Overwhelmingly, the most common reason that people give for not reading is lack of time. It’s seen as an indulgence rather than a necessity. Yet, as discussed, the evidence for the benefits of reading for pleasure is overwhelming. Just half an hour every day (30 minutes less of scrolling through Instagram or one less episode of a favourite TV show) will reap untold rewards.

Choosing a book

It’s time to browse your shelves, pick up your Kindle or go to your library! The quality and range of fiction and non-fiction available for young adults to read has never been better. Some of our best contemporary authors – Malorie Blackman and John Green to name two – all write in this genre and address many important coming-of-age issues. Bullying and popularity, sex and pregnancy, racism and exclusion, drugs and violence and dysfunctional families are all addressed but in a safe environment between the pages of a book and without embarrassing or patronising adults getting involved.

The days when young readers graduated from Enid Blyton and C.S.Lewis to Agatha Christie and classics like Dickens, Hardy and Austen are thankfully long gone.

There has never been a better time to be a reader.

 

This is a condensed version of Jenny’s article. You can read the full article here.

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