Benefits of Reading

Scientific research has shown that reading can positively impact a person’s health and prospects throughout the course of their life. When practiced with regularity, reading can be a valuable pastime, forming part of a balanced lifestyle.

  • People who are literate earn 30% to 42% more income compared to people who are illiterate.
  • Book readers showed a 20% reduced mortality when compared with people who only read periodicals.
  • Just 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress by 68% (better than listening to music, having tea/coffee, taking a walk, or playing video games).
  • On average, a 50% increase in vocabulary and fact-based knowledge can be found in people who read regularly compared with those who don’t.
  • Those who read for just half an hour each week are 20% more likely to report having greater life satisfaction.
  • Reading fiction books can increase the decision-making skills of readers by 50% to 100%.
  • A child’s IQ can be increased by up to 6 points by reading aloud to them.
  • Children also have a greater opportunity for verbal interaction and word learning during shared reading when compared to their other childhood activities.
  • Teenagers who read for pleasure daily have been shown to understand 26% more words than those who don’t.
  • As most libraries offer free membership, reading is a hobby many people can do for free, with interlibrary loan programs also allowing readers to borrow from an even greater selection of titles.

Benefits of reading to children

Through shared reading, children are able to gain key literacy skills that can set them up for self-education and personal growth over the course of their lifetime.

  • A child’s IQ can be increased by up to 6 points by reading aloud to them.
  • 87% of parents who read aloud to their children do it due to being bedtime/naptime, helping their kids to fall asleep.
  • Children aged 3 to 5 can fall asleep for longer durations following bedtime read-aloud sessions.
  • They also have a greater opportunity for verbal interaction during shared reading when compared to their other daily childhood activities.
  • Shared reading can also be a better method for word learning overall.

A graph is given below to show the opinions on reading aloud from children and parents:

Benefits of reading for students

At a critical stage in personal development, reading can benefit students by allowing them to improve their comprehension, expand their perspectives, and sharpen their minds.

  • By reading fiction as a child, teenagers can become more intuitive, mature and develop greater decision-making skills.
  • Teenagers who grew up in book-loving homes were shown to know 42% more words than teenagers who grew up with a small quantity of books.
  • Furthermore, teenagers who read for pleasure daily have been shown to understand 26% more words than those who don’t.
  • High school students with an above-average reading ability have a 50% greater chance of attending college than those below-average.
  • Reading activities show positive associations with cognitive/school tests, whereas video gaming (which is popular with adolescents) shows little to no positive association.

Benefits of reading for adults

Reading can help adults intellectually develop their ideas, perspectives and insights. Regular reading can also provide a sense of escapism, allowing readers to dedicate a moment for themselves at the end of a busy day.

  • People who are literate earn 30% to 42% more income compared to people who are illiterate.
  • Those who read for just half an hour each week are 20% more likely to report having a greater life satisfaction.
  • Book reading can greatly reduce loneliness in adults aged 18 to 64.
  • Readers have been shown to perform better than nonreaders on reasoning and logic tests.
  • Those who enjoy reading for pleasure report increased feelings of social well-being.

A graph is given below to show the top 5 benefits of reading physical books that have been reported by US-based adults:

Benefits of reading for seniors

Reading encourages the ongoing development of neural connections, which can lessen the mental effects of aging in elderly individuals.

  • On average, people aged over 50 who read books were shown to live around 2 years longer than those who didn’t.
  • Reading can boost a person’s vocabulary, which has been linked to reducing the rate of mental decline.
  • In total, a lifelong reading habit has been shown to lessen rates of mental decline by a third.
  • Reading is recommended by The National Institute on Aging to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia-related cognitive decline.
  • As reading forces the brain to use different synapses, it can even be an effective treatment for stroke sufferers.

Health benefits of reading

Reading can offer a great number of mental and physical health benefits when practiced regularly. Even though it is considered a relaxing activity, it also provides a high level of cognitive stimulation that can benefit readers of all ages.

  • Book readers showed a 20% reduced mortality when compared with people who only read periodicals.
  • Just 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress by 68% (better than listening to music, having tea/coffee, taking a walk or playing video games).
  • People are 10% more likely to have higher self-esteem when they describe themselves as readers rather than nonreaders.
  • Increased satisfaction with sleep quality and quantity is reported by bedtime readers when compared to non-bedtime readers.
  • Storytelling has been shown to reduce pain in hospitalized children by 70.13%.

A graph is given below to show the benefits of bedtime reading on health:

Benefits of reading every day

For those who can maintain regular habits, reading every day can allow learners to grow their knowledge, enrich their vocabulary, and increase their overall mental ability.

  • Just 15 minutes of daily reading can increase people’s feelings of accomplishment by 69%, relaxation by 55%, and happiness by 33%.
  • 30 minutes of daily reading can lower the heart rate, blood pressure and reduce feelings of distress.
  • On average, a 50% increase in vocabulary and fact-based knowledge can be found in people who read regularly compared with those who don’t.
  • Students who maintain a daily reading habit increase their likelihood of graduating by 22%.
  • A study of seniors with an everyday reading habit saw their cognitive functions improve over a 6 month period.

A graph is given below to show how student reading growth (normal curve equivalent gain) is affected by their time spent reading each day:

Benefits of reading fiction

Fiction titles immerse readers in riveting stories, enhancing a reader’s empathy and understanding of human nature by relating to the emotions and experiences of different characters.

  • Reading fiction books can increase the decision-making skills of readers by 50% to 100%.
  • Emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills can be developed by fiction book titles.
  • Reading stories strengthens the language-processing regions of the brain.
  • Reading novels increases brain activity and continues to do so as the plot builds to a climax.
  • Increased stimulation of the brain has been recorded for days after subjects finished reading a novel.
  • Reading fiction can allow children to better understand emotions, feelings, and the beliefs of others, which are crucial for building successful relationships.
  • Fiction books are able to accurately describe a character’s thoughts and feelings and also give more of a background to the events that take place.
  • In contrast, movie adaptations are often unable to go into as much depth due to their format and length, meaning many details are cut out.

Benefits of reading nonfiction

Nonfiction can provide readers with a broader knowledge and understanding of the world, through content that increases awareness of ideas, cultures, and real-life events.

  • Nonfiction stimulates the brain, improving memory and analytical skills whilst also aiding with reading and writing.
  • Nonfiction titles often detail the experiences of others and historical events, teaching valuable life lessons that benefit the reader.
  • Readers can use nonfiction titles to explore the finer details on a specific topic and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject at hand.
  • Sequential reading of nonfiction titles enables readers to recognize patterns and links between the book’s different sections.
  • Read in their entirety, readers will also gain a better understanding of the overall argument of the author.
  • Self-help books can measurably improve the condition of people with depression and anxiety.
  • Reading self-help books can help people understand emotions and issues to such an extent that the UK’s NHS prescribes books to patients.

Benefits of reading different book formats

Print books, ebooks and audiobooks provide readers with a selection of options to suit different preferences and lifestyles, each with its own unique benefits.

Audiobooks and ebooks

  • Ebooks and audiobooks allow readers to store multiple titles on one portable device, with easily accessible new titles.
  • Reading accuracy can increase by 52% by listening to audiobooks and they can also improve comprehension by 76%.
  • By listening to audiobooks frequently, students have been shown to comprehend two grade levels above their reading level.
  • Audiobooks may be preferred by auditory learners, who represent around 30% of the population. 
  • Audiobooks can even be listened to at varied speeds, allowing listeners to listen to titles at a pace that suits them.
  • Compared with just reading print books, the combination of print books and audiobooks can increase recall by 40%.
  • Users who read ebooks can often find the meaning of a word on the fly by highlighting the word and using an in-built dictionary on their e-reader.
  • Depending on their e-reader, they can also customize text, add bookmarks and use search capabilities.
  • It is also possible to read in the dark with many e-readers due to their in-built screen lighting, allowing those with busier daily schedules to read in bed.

Physical books

  • Recalling events in a story was significantly better from paperback readers when compared to Kindle readers.
  • The action of holding a physical book copy is believed to help readers gain a better understanding of where they are in relation to the storyline.
  • Turning paper pages can act as a marker in the mind of the reader, helping them understand the storyline’s sequence.
  • Compared against ebooks and audiobooks, physical book copies do not require charging and cannot run out of power.
  • When reading a paperback or hardcover book, readers are generally compelled to understand new words contextually.
  • 62% of children and teenagers aged 6 to 17 still prefer print books over ebooks, despite averaging screen times of between around 3 and 7.5 hours per day.

Podcasts

  • Although podcasts are not technically books, they can impact the human brain in similar ways to audiobooks.
  • Well produced podcasts often have the same elements as a book, including characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution.
  • 55% of US podcast listeners say learning is a major reason for them to listen to podcasts.
  • In addition, 36% were influenced to try a positive new lifestyle change (such as a fitness, diet or journaling habit) due to podcasts.
  • As with audiobooks, podcasts may be preferred by auditory learners and they can also be listened to at different speeds.

Preferred book formats for US readers

Readers are now able to choose from a range of formats to match their individual needs. This can be particularly useful when for those with busier lifestyles who do not want to carry around physical book copies, or for those who prefer to listen to audiobooks on-the-go.

FormatPercentage of readers
Print books, ebooks and audiobooks45%
Print books only32%
Print books and ebooks12%
Ebooks only6%
Print books and audiobooks3%
Ebooks and audiobooks1%
Audiobooks only1%

A graph is given below to show the preferred book formats for US readers:

Benefits of reading FAQ

What are the benefits of reading out loud?

  • Reading out loud offers a wide-range of benefits such as:
    • Improved comprehension – Reading out loud slows down the reading speed, enabling information to be absorbed and processed more effectively.
    • Enhanced pronunciation and language skills – Reading out loud allows readers to practice speaking techniques that improve vocabulary, language and communication abilities.
    • Memory enhancement – Reading out loud involves multiple senses, creating strong neural connections that help with memory retention.