Reading Benefits for Kids and Teens
With so many digital distractions available for kids and teens these days, it can be tough to convince them to sit down with a good book. But the rewards of curling up with an old-fashioned page-turner might help you talk even the most stubborn children into sitting down with Dr. Seuss or J.K Rowling
Books and Brain Health
The benefits of reading for kids and teens start in the brain as early as infancy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In a study they conducted in 2014, it was discovered that “reading exerts a positive effect on the developing brain” of children – even for those little ones who can’t read yet.
Not only do kids who are read to regularly when they’re little develop stronger relationships with their parents, they also begin learning valuable language and literacy skills earlier on in their development. Research also suggests that children who are read to when they’re small do better in school when they get older because they’re equipped with stronger comprehension and vocabulary skills.
Pleasure-reading on their own benefits older kids and teenagers, too. It helps them develop stronger social skills, vocabulary and writing skills, and helps them to better understand and process more complex ideas. Reading also expands their ability to build knowledge overall – not just in subjects like English and language arts.
Another bonus? Teens who read for fun are also better able to clarify their career goals and understand the consequences of risky behavior.
Reading books does more than make your kids smarter, though. It can also make them kinder, more empathic people.
Reading and Empathy
According to published research, kids and teens who read fiction, as opposed to non-fiction or nothing at all, are better able to understand their own emotions and the emotions of others – a trait known as empathy.
As studies out of Emory University in Atlanta show, fiction helps to trick our brain into thinking we’re a part of the story – meaning kids are able to feel sympathy for the characters, which can extend to how they interact with real people in their own lives. They begin to develop better “feeling words” words, and are better able to relate to their friends and peers.
In other words, books can teach children valuable lessons about considering other people’s feelings, seeing things from a different perspective and being kind and understanding to those who look different than they do.