What Your Child Gains From Reading - Parents Quietly Succeeding

What Your Child Gains From Reading

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What does your child gain from reading? Almost everything.

Your child will derive enormous benefits from reading and as parents developing a love of books will easily be one of the most important activities you can do to benefit your children. 

In this post we’ll look at 5 essential benefits, a foolproof method for choosing ‘the’ right book for our your child and a 10 point checklist, to ensure your children gets all the incredible advantages of reading and more.

The Incredible Benefits Your Child Gains From Reading

The importance of reading cannot be over or under estimated and will help your child get the best out of life on almost every level. This is because amongst other advantages, research is showing reading is able to develop…

1. Brain connectivity

There is strong evidence, as that given in What Creates Superior Brain Connectivity, to show reading increases brain connectivity. 

That is, reading strengthens and builds vital connections (white matter) between the various functions and structures of the brain.

This research states, ’Reading books or other materials that require you to think, contemplate, and struggle to understand what’s being said or explained, generates new neurons, increases neuronal connections, and speeds up mental processing.’ 

In effect, reading increases your child’s ability to learn, synthesise, process and apply information, as well as, improve memory.

So what does this actually mean for your child?

As other factors come into play, in any chosen area of life your child will at least be better placed to grasp, think through and select, the best option in any given scenario faster.

And even if they make the wrong choice (as they will), they’ll understand…why that was the wrong choice and chose differently next time.

2. Theory of Mind 

Yes, a strange term which refers to understanding – others hold a different point of view from your own.

Startling obvious now, this wasn’t always so, for we are born hardwired with a deep sense of our own need. And if you have children already you’ll know sharing is in no way instinctual. This capacity has to be taught as left unchecked this tendency would develop into rampant narcissism.

Evidenced in Social and Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, research by Tamir et al show, ‘fiction reading’ is a key tool in helping to counter this tendency. 


Well, from the multiplicity of conflicting characters and storylines involved in a book, your child begins to appreciate, (as in life), there are any number of competing views points at play at any one time. 

Think no further than e.g. ‘The Three Little Pigs’ and the different conflicting beliefs, drives and motives held by the principle characters; the wolf and the individual porkers.

Throughout, as your child reads they are tracking and making sense of each individuals worldview until ultimately the story is resolved.

They begin slowly to appreciate, even if others look the same, as in the case of the 3 little pigs, people have their own identity, who will think and act differently, often radically so. 

This represents a fundamental shift to comprehending life as a sequence of negotiations with others and of trial and error, that brings with it, some losses and some failures.

What does this mean for your child?

Well, amongst other things, even before your reader enters the wider world they would’ve implicitly understood the nature of competing opinion and world views.

Here research suggests reading increases 3 key traits;

  • The ability to learn from mistakes (and the mistakes of others)
  • Increased tolerance and understanding (to live and let live)
  • Be less phased when the inevitable occurs knowing – you win some you lose some

This extends and is developed across the next two points…

3. Emotional intelligence (EQ)

A key element of this quality, according to Daniel Goleman author of Emotional Intelligence, is self-awareness, the ability to understand the emotional state of one self. 

Highly industrialised countries and 24 hours cities are characterised by their rich, overly stimulating neon environments.

And such places for all their convenience constantly pull at our attention drawing our focus outside ourselves. 

As a result we achieve only a partial knowledge of ourselves at the expense of what Jung referred to as the shadow self. And it is from the shadows, our blind spots that we are more likely to be (emotionally) triggered. 

See our posts on Goal Setting as well as our blog on Self Love and Well Being

However being more emotionally self aware helps us understand and gauge how we feel before we have to manage how we feel. It is the capacity to sense within ourselves the emotional tides of; discomfort, anger, apprehension, anxiety or depression. 

And it is here at this crucial intersection we can take action before those feelings become impactful.

So what does this mean for your child in the real world? 

Research by ""“>Daniel Goleman suggests emotional intelligence as promoted by reading, supports the capacity in your child to e.g. form and maintain mutually beneficial interpersonal relationships. This is because as your child senses and manages their interior world they become more balanced, less needy and more attractive to be around. 

4. Empathy 

Like emotional intelligence this quality relates to the ability to identify with the emotional temperature of others

In the UK, BBC Futures asks, ‘Does reading fiction make us better people?’ 

The answer is yes especially if well written because in reading and following the dramatic unfolding of events related to the plot your child is given the chance to…

  1. ‘Feel’ the misfortune or joy experienced by principle characters and develop empathy. 
  1. Reflect upon what they would have done and thus reflect upon the values they themselves hold, how they form judgements, make decision and act (social skills).

5. Vocabulary

It’s all about expression. 

The greater our verbal range, the greater our ability to articulate; our internal states, our ideas, how we feel, our beliefs and what we believe in…without the need for non verbal expression.

‘The more words you know, the more clearly and powerfully you will think.’ Wilfred Funk (publisher, author).

OK now here’s the big one…

How To Chose ‘Exactly’ The Right Book For Your Child?

There are many theories to turn to that would satisfy this problem. 

However I want to borrow from a different, yet related field and the advice offered by Professor Stephen Krashan. 

Professor Krashan (The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research), a noted language acquisition expert, speaks of reading literature that is, ‘compelling’. 

Compelling literature 

This is literature that is so utterly and completely engrossing, the reader engages in, free voluntary reading i.e. reading for pleasure.

Usefully Professor Krashan goes on to state, compelling literature can be ‘anything’ the reader (your child) finds interesting or compelling, in the shape of; comics, poetry, graphic novels, books or even posts.  

We would add here, how important it is to experiment and try your young reader with literature taken from different genres: sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, romance, adventure.

How to get started…

10 Easy Steps That Will Encourage Your Child To Read More

To get the amazing benefits of reading here are 10 easy steps.

1. Most importantly, ‘Get Caught Reading’, which is the name of a US based campaign designed to encourage reading.  

It leans on the psychological concept of conformity, defined as ‘a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behaviour in order to fit in with a group’.

Your child will conform to the normalised behaviours of key figures they see around them i.e. they will copy frequently repeated behaviour they see from: you, older siblings, cousins, carer givers friends, TV etc. 

This exposure will dramatically increases the chances of your child expressing any such behaviour later in life, in this case reading.

2. Get involved, when reading to your child make it fun use your; voice, face and body, to make the experience of reading and book pleasurable. 

Bring characters to life with your voice, your body, your face make it, compelling! 

3. Start developing your child’s reading muscle early and get your child familiar with books to make it a lifelong, lifestyle habit. 

Create regular reading sessions, visit local libraries and drop in on your local book store. Today, many book stores incorporate some kind of café, so why not make an afternoon of it and get lost in the world of books!  

4. Timing is everything, so try to reduce distractions and/or avoid competing for your child’s attention with the time their favourite TV programme is about to begin! 

5. Make sure the room is well lit as you won’t want to needlessly stress the eye muscles too early into the reading session.

6. Make sure there’s plenty of fresh air as the brain needs plenty of it. In fact the brain uses a massive 20% of our bodies total oxygen intake.

7. Keep your reader well hydrated throughout the day to ensure they’re bright, alert and ready, for more compelling adventures!  

8. Be prepared to read their favourite story again and again (and maybe again)! So think about get others involved: older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends. 

9. If your child can find a book series they enjoy, so much the better. And spins-offs from your child’s favourite cartoon will no doubt involve books, so that’ll be a great place to begin. 

10. Reading sessions shouldn’t be long and never to the point of fatigue or boredom, (this is important). Pause, your reading sessions using cliffhangers the writer has already embedded into the story to keep your young reader coming back for more adventure!

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Bonus Tip: Talk about what you’ve just read.

  • What came up for your young reader? 
  • What surprised them?
  • What excited them?
  • Discuss the ‘why’ a particular character may have taken the decision they did?
  • Together, can you develop an alternative plan of action…what would your young reader have done differently?

Posing just a few questions like these as part of your reading session will be enough to give your child’s brain a crucial extra workout to truly unlock those gifts we started with earlier.

The Long Term Benefits of Reading

Yes, reading will make your child a more educated, a more rounded person but in developing the habit of reading, you are further gifting your child an amazing coping mechanism. 

In the UK, The Annual Report of her Majesty Chief Inspector of Education Children Services and Skills 2019/20, refers to reading as a, ‘protective’ factor and an ‘essential’ life skill.

Reading and Mental Health

Notable scientific research in this area was published in 2009 by the University of Sussex led by D. Lewis. 

This study was able to show directly how remarkably effective reading fiction can be in reducing instances of — depression, stress, low mood and high blood pressure. 

In combatting these health issues this research was able to demonstrate 6mins of reading reduced stress by an impressive 2/3!

This puts reading up there with e.g. exercise and listening to music, to make us feel better. 

Reading and Longevity

In the US, a Yale University study, led by Avni Bavishi, Martin D. Slade and Becca R. Levy, showed participants who read on a regular basis lived up to 2 years longer.

Reading and Wealth

Reading is a common leisure activity of some of the wealthiest people on the planet who in turn credit reading as a key element in their success. Here we could cite: Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Billl Gates as the most well known.


When it comes to reading teaching your child the love of books is easily an unparalleled ‘gift’. 

With no apparent downside your children will grow to enjoy rich rewarding relationships and a life of meaning and in return the world will benefit from having another well adjusted point of light.

We want to hear from you and you can comment on this post below.

Read our related blog on Goal Setting as well as Self Love and Well Being and download our free habit tracker to keep you and your children on track of your reading habit.

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