Reading for Pleasure
Why is reading for pleasure important?
There is strong evidence linking reading for pleasure and educational outcomes. We know that academic attainment is of vital importance, but the benefits of reading for pleasure go beyond this and stretch throughout a person's life.
Research finds that reading for pleasure can result in increased empathy, improved relationships with others, reductions in the symptoms of depression and dementia, and improved wellbeing.
The relationship between reading for pleasure and wellbeing is particularly interesting, with evidence showing a correlation between reading for pleasure regularly and lower levels of stress and depression. Reading also seems to reduce the risk of dementia, with frequent readers having lower incidence of dementia in later life.
In addition to the health benefits, reading for pleasure has social benefits and can improve our sense of connection to the wider community. Reading increases our understanding of our own identity, improves empathy and gives us an insight into the world view of others.
Reading is not just something that children should do in school; it needs to be an everyday part of our lives, something we choose to do at all ages.
Top Tips for engaging young people with reading for pleasure
Encourage them to create something new from their favourite books
Many teen readers enjoy interacting with the content of their favourite books. One great way to do this is by writing fan fiction, which means writing something new which features some or all of the characters from a book. Good fan fiction sites include:
Encourage them to read different types of fiction
Graphic novels, for instance, are a great way to get teens reading and appeal to both reluctant and keen readers. The genre has given readers a whole range of classic characters and stories: the website below gives you a good starting point!
Malorie Blackman’s Top 10 graphic novels for teens:
Help them find places to discuss books
It’s often the case that young people feel much more comfortable talking about books without adults in the mix, and there are plenty of websites available to help them do this – you’ll find a few suggestions below.
The Teenage Book Forum: http://theteenagebookforum.proboards.com/
Model yourself as a reader
Teens are more likely to read if they are surrounded by reading role models, so make sure they’ve got a chance to talk to you about your reading choices and the reasons behind them. Talk about everything: why there are some books you didn’t finish, why you re-read certain books, how you go about choosing a new read, etc.