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Kids Who Read More Have More Empathy and Academic Success, Research Finds

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Kids Who Read More Have More Empathy and Academic Success, Research Finds

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The average American read for just about 15 minutes in 2022. This is concerning, considering only a decade ago, in 2012, the average reading time was 19 minutes and 48 seconds.

For a while in 2020, people across the nation began reading more again, surpassing even the 2012 average. But now, people’s reading habits are falling back to pre-pandemic levels, and the sale of print books across the United States has begun dropping with it.

In 2021, sales of print books surged to a record-breaking high. With over 788 million copies sold in 2022, sales are still over pre-pandemic levels but dropping fast.

It is a universal truth that reading is good for the brain. Unfortunately, busy lives and digital media often impact how much people read. With book sales going down, it is now more important than ever to encourage people to read, especially children.

The Impact of Reading on Children

Research claims that reading for pleasure increases comprehensibility and empathy in children and directly impacts longevity and academic performance.

According to a study published in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Graduate Research done on 15- to 17-year-old students in a rural Southeast Texas high school, students who read for pleasure got significantly higher marks in English, science, history and even math than their non-reading peers. Researchers assessed almost 470,000 participants and concluded that reading books, especially in print, boosts people’s comprehension skills.

The study by the University of Valencia’s Interdisciplinary Reading Research Structure clarified that reading should be encouraged, especially in primary and secondary school students. Another study from Economic and Social Research Institute, conducted in 2013, showed that children whom their caregivers read to tend to show better language skills and are better at problem-solving.

The impact of reading and interacting with babies extends into their teen years, with the children often exhibiting excellent communication skills and higher IQs up to the age of 14. Experts at the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning note that reading to children increases their vocabulary and improves their grasp of numbers.

Reading books improves our academic and communication skills, and now there is reason to believe that those who read for pleasure have higher levels of empathy. One study by Erasmus University, Rotterdam investigated whether reading fiction may affect the readers’ empathy levels. It concluded that when people read fiction, which often involves being transported to other worlds, areas and eras, they become more empathetic.

But that is not all. Those who read may also live longer than their non-reading peers. A Chapter a Day—Association of Book Reading with Longevity, a 2016 National Library of Medicine study, concluded that readers enjoyed a four-month survival advantage. Researchers also noted a 20 percent reduction in the risk or mortality in readers over 12 years of follow-up.

Reading Habits in Kids

While adults often blame social media for the reduction in reading tendencies in children, the 2023 What Kids Are Reading Report by Renaissance found that #BookTok trends have been instrumental in driving children’s interest in and engagement with various books. The study took into account 1.3 million students across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

The report concluded that students read 27,265,657 books from 2021 to 2022, 24 percent more than the previous academic year. The data collected tells us that children are showing interest but need encouragement, support and guidance from their parents to better delve into the vast world of books. That said, how does one develop a reading habit in children?

Practice Reading to Them Early On

Since books help tremendously with comprehension and vocabulary, reading to kids is always a good idea, even when they are babies. Parents should ensure the reading sessions are interactive. They can do this by engaging with the children, changing the tone of voice to suit the mood, or playing with volume and music. This way, kids should start finding the concept of stories and reading fun and consequently develop an interest in them.

Show Interest in What They Are Reading

Discussing what they are reading and their plans for future reads is often a great idea. Parents can turn such discussions into a bonding session where they and the child tell each other tales of faraway fantasy lands and take pleasure in each other’s company and the magic of words.

Be Seen Reading

Children learn about the world through their parents and guardians. They are the first adults they look up to, and they show this by mirroring their actions. They want to cook with their parents and watch what they are watching. So, when they see their parents take delight in reading, they learn to copy that too and try to find out what this reading thing is all about.

Take Them to Libraries and Book Clubs

Parents should teach children the wonders of reading alone, but remind them that it does not have to be a lonely hobby and that there are special places called libraries, where hundreds and thousands of stories exist in unison. They should also introduce children to their first book club and let them make friends over their favorite books. Reading is often called the hobby of an introvert. But it can help one socialize and befriend people who echo one’s interests.

To learn more, read The Joy of Reading!

This article contains information produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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