The New York Times published an entire guide called How to Raise a Reader aimed at teaching parents how to establish reading habits in their children from an early age. Why would they do this? Because there is study after study that shows the benefits of reading in child development.
But what if your children aren’t “children” anymore, but rather pre-teens and teenagers? Can they still reap the developmental benefits of reading, even if they’re in junior high and high school?
The short answer is: yes. It’s absolutely still beneficial to have a family of involved readers, no matter what age your children are. People of all ages can enjoy the mental benefits of reading, even if they don’t start until they are well into their teens. Here’s how.
Benefits of Reading Through the Terrible Teen Years
There is a lot written about early childhood development and its relation to reading. However, teenagers can still reap immense benefits from participating in active reading (whether voluntary or not – we can hope for voluntary!)
Studies show that reading for pleasure as a teenager can not only affect learning potential, but it can also affect their social skills, emotional understanding, and how well they do on exams such as the SATs. It could even affect the quality of job they get later on in life.
Here’s why you should continue to encourage reading in your household, despite any rolled eyes you might endure.
Reading for pleasure improves performance in school.
Sure, they’re reading their class assignments, or maybe even an assigned textbook, but reading for pleasure actually affects their overall performance even better. Studies have shown that “reading for fun” expands a teenager’s vocabulary and helps them to understand more complex ideas. It might sound like common sense, but essentially the more a teen reads, the more knowledge they pick up. And this wealth of knowledge is what aids them in a variety of classes, therefore improving their average grades overall.
Reading can help conquer the mighty SATs.
As we said before, a benefit of reading for fun is an expanded vocabulary. Reading a lot also improves a teen’s reading comprehension skills, which are crucial for the verbal section of the SATs. The verbal section makes up a large chunk of an SAT score – so if your teenager does well there, they’re sure to have a decent overall result.
Reading factors into future social mobility.
Studies show that reading for pleasure at the age of 15 and beyond can actually have an effect on the future success of the child (in a good way). Research shows that a desire to read for fun goes hand-in-hand with desires to learn more about the world, other people, other lives and social situations. It’s believed that there is a direct connection between these desires and the success that stems from being someone who loves to learn and improve one’s skills.
If your teen is developing habits that transform into more skills, more knowledge, then they are more likely to find a better job later in life.
Reading for fun strengthens emotional intelligence.
While we have discussed in-depth the connection of the brain and reading fiction, it bears repeating. Teenagers who delve into novels, particularly action novels, start to develop an ability to empathize and relate to situations outside of themselves. This emotional intelligence is a huge strength that will help them to navigate not only high school, but also adulthood.
If you have a teen who is a reluctant reader, don’t be afraid to encourage them in any way you can to enjoy it. There are whole hosts of books out there that cover every subject (video game-related books, anyone?) The subject doesn’t really matter as long as they read. The benefits of reading are worth it and they might even learn to love it!
Looking for a new, family-friendly action book series for your teen (or yourself)? Check out The Sieger Chronicles – this latest dystopian saga will have you gripping the edge of your seat at every page-turn. Buy on Amazon today!