Impact of reading for pleasureAugust 13th, 2015 By Jo Buchan
A new report from the Reading Agency in the UK, The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment, brings more insight into the non-literacy benefits of reading for pleasure.
The strong link between reading for pleasure and educational achievement is becoming increasingly well-known thanks to a growing body of research in the area. For example, OECD research reported that reading for enjoyment is more important for children's educational success than their parents socio-economic status. While the Growing Independence Report from the Competent Learners project found students who enjoy reading had consistently higher scores in reading, maths, logical problem solving and attitude.
The new report, carried out by BOP consulting and funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation, collated the most recent findings on reading for pleasure.
Along with overall improved well-being, findings included increased empathy, greater knowledge of other cultures, reduced symptoms of depression and dementia, and improved parent-child communication and social capital for children, young people and adults. It also found that people who enjoy reading and choose to do so in their free time are more likely to enjoy all of these benefits.
Among the research surveyed was a cross-sectional study of children in New Zealand schools by Smith et al (2012), which explored the relationship between self-efficacy and levels of enjoyment of reading. Using two samples: one of children aged eight to nine and one aged 12 to 13, Smith found that children enjoy and achieve gratification from reading even if they don’t think they’re very good at it:
“…reading enjoyment was higher among the younger age group (despite higher levels of reading achievement amongst the older children), and amongst females over males at both age groups. Importantly, reading enjoyment was not associated with socio-economic status in either age group. Reading enjoyment was not associated with reading self-efficacy, but reading achievement was.”
Improving reading engagement is one of National Library's Services to Schools three strategies priorities. And, encouraging and supporting children to read for pleasure is the underlying key to getting students engaged with reading. Creating the web of support students need to keep reading requires strong relationships between schools, families and public libraries. It requires the commitment of every member of staff in a school. Ideally, right in the heart of this reading network is the school library with a skilled librarian (or library team), who guides students and staff to resources, shares ideas and role models reading with passion!
Read the full report: Literature Review: The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment, (PDF) The Reading Agency, June 2015
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