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Reading for pleasure has major benefits for kids, according to new research

Everyone knows that literacy is crucial not only for a child’s development, but for living a successful life. But just how much does early literacy and reading affect kids in the long run? A recent study published in The Journal of Psychological Medicine found that children tend to do better on cognitive tests and have better mental health when they’re adolescents, if they start reading for pleasure before age 9, as reported by The Washington Post.

Other benefits included better memory, speech development, fewer signs of stress and depression, fewer behavioral problems, and higher academic achievement. These children also slept longer and spent less time on electronic devices than those who started reading for pleasure later in life or not at all.

Research included testing, clinical assessments, brain scans, and gathering information from parents and teachers for more than 10,000 young adolescents.

“These findings, for the first time, revealed the important relationships of early reading for pleasure with subsequent brain and cognitive development and mental well-being,” the researchers wrote in the study.

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And there are even more benefits even before they become adolescents.

Additionally, Psychology Today reports that parents should always encourage reading for pleasure, especially during the summer months, and that “reading may be just as beneficial as summer school in preventing summer learning loss.”

Ways to encourage your young child to read for pleasure include making it a part of a daily routine, praise and give attention to reading (while being careful about giving material rewards), modeling reading for pleasure, allowing your kids to choose their reading material, and consistently reading to your children from a very young age, even before they can read on their own, according to the Psychology Today article.

Preventing summer learning loss, improved cognitive ability, better mental health, and having better sleep and screen habits are just some of the ways that learning how to read for pleasure early can affect our kids for the rest of their lives. Reading for pleasure together also makes for a great screen-free family bonding activity to do together regularly.