It has been a while since we shared a roundup of the latest research on the benefits reading for pleasure. From strengthening empathy to improving grades and graduation rates, access to books can literally change a child’s life:

  • Access to books has been shown to eliminate the impact of poverty on learning outcomes and graduation rates, even if the child’s parents are not literate themselves
  • Reading books has been shown in scores of published studies to strengthen social skills, reasoning, and theory of mind (the ability to understand what another is thinking).
  • Reading stories about stigmatized groups has been shown in studies to reduce stereotypes and prejudice, and that this reduction is sustained for months after exposure to the story.
  • Reading stories has been shown to strengthen critical thinking, even when controlling for language proficiency. This means that whether a child is just learning to read, or a strong reader, they will experience this benefit.
  • In neighborhoods with libraries, communities have scored higher in feelings of social cohesion.
  • Access to stories can be a buffer against extremism and radical ideologies by exposing children to positive contact with ‘outgrips’ in a safe and risk-free environment (in a book), allowing the benefits of increased empathy and prejudice reduction to sink in.