Benefits of Reading

This web page is dedicated to increasing our understanding of the benefits of reading generally, i.e., all types of benefits for all types of readers, by summarizing research and ideas.  The ideas and sources listed below serve as an introduction to a huge body of research that addresses the benefits of reading; the information here is in no way meant to be comprehensive.

  1. Readers have fun.  Everybody loves something, and there are books about everyone’s interests.  Reading provides inexpensive enjoyment, pleasure, and entertainment, full of positive consequences.
  2. Readers improve the world.  On the “The Reading Project” web site Carolyn Martin of Cornell University refers to an NEA survey and explains, “People who read for pleasure are many times more likely than those who do not to visit museums and attend concerts, and almost three times as likely to perform volunteer and charity work. Readers are active participants in the world around them, and that engagement is critical to individual and social well-being.”
  3. Readers gain knowledge.  Reading provides an opportunity for readers to be life-long learners about subjects, cultures, and themselves.  On February 21, 1995, the San Diego Union Tribune carried a column called COMPUTERlINK, in which Bill Gates, multi-billionaire Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, said, “It is pretty unlikely that people will become knowledgeable without being excellent readers. . . .  I try to make sure I get in an hour or more of reading each weeknight and a few hours each weekend. I read at least one newspaper every day and several magazines each week.  I make it a point to read at least one news weekly from cover to cover because it broadens my interests. If I read only what intrigues me, such as the science section and a subset of the business section, then I finish the magazine the same person I was before I started. So I read it all.”
  4. Readers acquire skills.  Readers not only improve comprehension and become better readers, but they increase their vocabularies, develop the use of their imaginations, foster their creativity, expand their curiosity, become better writers (by understanding the grammar, patterns, and rhythm of language), improve their memories, hone their attention spans, enhance their critical thinking and reasoning skills, acquire second languages more easily, and develop the ability to express themselves clearly and confidently.
  5. Readers benefit personally.  Readers improve their self-esteem, develop self-discipline, get better jobs, improve their conversations by having something to discuss, forge social bonds (including friend-to-friend and parent-to-child), reduce boredom, relieve stress, lower anxiety, recover from trauma (bibliotherapy), and may actually raise their IQ’s.

A few web sources on the benefits of reading:


  1. Chistos, Jennifer.  “Benefits Seen from Reading.”  Evanston Courier Press.  22 Oct. 2008. <http://www.courierpress.com/news/2006/dec/24/benefits-seen-from-reading/>.
  2. Clark, Christina and Kate Rumbold.  “Reading for Pleasure: A Research Overview.”  National Literacy Trust.  23 Jan. 2009. <http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/research/Reading%20for%20pleasure.pdf>.
  3. “Fast Facts.” National Center for Educational Statistics.  19 Jan. 2009. <http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=56>.
  4. MacDonnell, Colleen.  “Making the Case for Pleasure Reading” Goliath.  15 Jan. 2009. <http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/summary_0199-429889_ITM>.
  5. Martin, Carolyn. “The Reading Project.” Cornell University.  18 Dec. 2008. <http://reading.cornell.edu/reading_project.cfm>.
  6. “Reading.”  Federal Resources for Educational Excellence.  U.S. Department of Education.  2 Feb. 2009. <http://www.free.ed.gov/subjects.cfm?subject_id=80&toplvl=78&res_feature_request=1>.
  7. “Reading Facts.”  National Institute for Literacy.  3 Jan. 2009. <http://www.nifl.gov/nifl/facts/reading_facts.html>.
  8. To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence (Research Report #47).  National Endowment for the Arts.  7 Feb. 2009. <http://www.nea.gov/research/ToRead.pdf>.
  9. “What are the health benefits of reading?” National Health Services, United Kingdom.  8 Jan. 2009. <http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2343.aspx?CategoryID=62&SubCategoryID=63>.