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Reading for fun improves children's brains

A study of 17,000 people from birth indicates that reading for pleasure improves not just literacy, but maths ability too.

The British Cohort Study, follows the lives of more than 17,000 people born in a single week in 1970 in England, Scotland and Wales.

Of the 17,000 members, 6,000 took a range of cognitive tests at age 16. The study compared children from the same social backgrounds who achieved similar tested abilities at ages five and 10, and discovered that those who frequently read books at age 10 and more than once a week when they were 16 had higher test results than those who read less. Reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress, both in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics.  The impact was around four times greater than that of having a parent with a post-secondary degree.

Reading was felt to introduce young people to new words, so the link between reading for pleasure and vocabulary development was expected, however, the link between reading for fun and progress in maths was more surprising

The study will continue to follow the sample as they age, when they will be able to examine whether reading protects them against cognitive decline.

Mon 16th Sept 2013