How Reading Helps a Child's Wellbeing

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Reading plays a huge role in our daily lives, whether skimming through text messages, following a recipe or diving into a new book. It allows us to navigate the world, learn new things, and connect with others without a second thought. The benefits of reading extend to all ages, but its impact on children is particularly profound.

In today's fast-paced world, children are often overwhelmed with various activities. Balancing schoolwork, sports, clubs, and friendships can be challenging and stressful. Reading provides a simple escape, allowing them to access worlds full of imagination and thrilling adventures. It encourages creativity and curiosity, teaches valuable life lessons and improves children's wellbeing.

Children reading together in the grass.

Here are some benefits of reading that will support your child's wellbeing:

Reading ignites confidence

Reading improves children's wellbeing by boosting their confidence through the exploration of diverse experiences and perspectives. This journey helps them better understand their place in the world, making them more comfortable in their identity and how they live.

Creating connections & a sense of belonging

Reading helps children connect with the world by introducing them to new cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. This broader understanding enriches their lives, reduces feelings of isolation and fosters a warm sense of belonging. As a result, children are likely to be more confident stepping out of their comfort zone and expanding their horizons as they grow from curious children into adventurous adolescents.

Empowering young voices

Children are incredibly eager to learn, and reading provides the perfect gateway for exploring their interests. When children discover topics they are passionate about, it empowers them with the confidence to engage more deeply with their community and the world around them. The voices of future change-makers are shaped within the pages of a good book, laying the foundation for a lifetime of curiosity and the desire to have a positive impact.

Discovering identity

Reading helps children understand that their voice matters by exposing them to characters and stories where individuals make a difference. This encourages a sense of agency and confidence in their opinions and thoughts, giving them a stronger foundation to express themselves. Books also provide a safe space for children to explore different parts of their identity, helping them feel more confident in who they are and even showing them they are not alone in facing certain situations.

Activity: Create a reading nook for your child. This simple step provides a safe, secure spot for them to enjoy reading time as a part of their daily routine. You can encourage them to lend a hand in creating or decorating this space, as it will help them develop their sense of style and self-expression. Feeling a sense of control boosts their self-esteem, which is vital for a child's brain development during their formative years.

Reading enhances emotional intelligence

Child holding a book above his head and smiling.

Reading helps children manage emotions by exploring feelings through stories, which aids brain development and emotional intelligence. Expanding their vocabulary and comprehension serves as a toolkit for more precise expression.

Mastering emotional regulation

Books give children unique opportunities to explore their internal world and make sense of difficult emotions like sadness, anger, and anxiety. Through engaging stories, they can observe characters navigating complex feelings, which helps them understand their own emotions better. These early emotional experiences are essential for healthy brain development as they shape the brain's structure. Additionally, reading is a therapeutic activity, offering a safe space for children to process their emotions. Children gain valuable insights into their emotional lives by immersing themselves in stories, fostering resilience and emotional intelligence.

Boosting communication skills

Reading allows children to understand and articulate complex emotions through story characters. This can provide a simple way for kids to discuss issues bothering them by relating to situations in their books, thereby reducing pent-up frustration and enhancing emotional well-being. Reading also builds on language development and improves comprehension skills, enabling children to communicate more clearly and confidently in everyday interactions. Furthermore, by engaging with diverse narratives, children develop different perspectives, enriching their communication abilities and helping them become more effective and empathetic communicators.

Developing empathy

Reading about different lives and characters helps children connect with and understand others. It also builds their background knowledge on various types of people and experiences. Empathy is a valuable skill in a child’s life, and several studies have shown that children with low levels of empathy are more likely to have behavioral problems. By nurturing empathy, we teach children to celebrate similarities and differences and connect positively with those around them.

Activity: Create an emotion journal where children can write or draw their feelings about the stories they read. Elementary school children will appreciate the opportunity to describe what emotions certain parts of the story brought up and why. For very young children, start by introducing them to children's books that focus on feelings; this is a great way to help them understand what different emotions can look and feel like.

Reading improves sleep quality & promotes relaxation

Reading before bed helps kids fall asleep by creating a calming routine, reducing stress, and improving sleep quality. This practice supports cognitive development, enhances focus, and encourages a love for reading.

Improving sleep

Books help kids fall asleep by promoting better sleep habits. Reading before bed eases the transition from wakefulness to sleep, improving sleep quality and mental health. Quality sleep supports emotional regulation, memory consolidation, and learning, which are crucial for a child's cognitive development.

Reducing stress

Reading relaxes children, helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Studies have found that the effects of reading can lower stress by as much as 68%.

Changing focus

Reading helps children momentarily escape from challenges in their daily lives and immerse themselves in another world. Shifting attention from their anxieties to the story provides a positive distraction, which gives them room to develop a healthier perspective on their issues and promotes a sense of calm. Thoughtfulness and concentration on the task also improve attention span, a crucial skill for long-term well-being.

Activity: Form a bedtime routine that includes reading aloud to your child. Reading to your child before bed creates a calming environment, reducing stress and signaling to the brain it is time to wind down. This practice helps regulate the body's internal clock, making it easier for children to fall asleep and wake up at consistent times. Just 15 minutes of story time can significantly benefit your child's development. It improves sleep, strengthens the caregiver-child bond, enhances listening skills, and models a love of reading!

Reading inspires creativity, imagination & joy

Studies have shown that reading from a young age can lead to greater mental well-being and happiness. Reading opens up a world of imagination, inspiring joy as children explore new realms and adventures. Whether learning something new or having a good laugh, reading enriches their daily lives in countless ways.

Activity: A great activity to excite your child about reading is Night Zookeeper - an online reading & writing program that uses gamified learning to keep children aged six to twelve entertained and excited to build their reading and writing skills.

Night Zookeeper logo, displayed on tablet screen.

Night Zookeeper will transport your child into a world of fantastically fun learning where anything is possible. Your child can design unique characters, making the experience entirely their own. Along the way, they will learn new vocabulary, strengthen phonemic awareness (the ability to decode words), and improve their language skills, supporting early brain development in a safe and encouraging environment.

Sign up today and get a FREE 7-day trial!

Got any questions? Reach out to us at [email protected]. Follow us on social media for more tips and free activities:

Featured in this article

World Book Day: The Mental Health Benefits of reading news from BACP (2022) World Book Day: The mental health benefits of reading. Available at: (Accessed: 09 July 2024).

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