Check out our latest magazine... Read Online

World Book Day: 7 Wellbeing Benefits Of Reading

From fast-paced thrillers and murder mysteries to fascinating memoirs and dragon-filled fantasy novels, books can bring us immense pleasure.

There’s something particularly powerful about the way words can transport you to faraway places in your imagination and block out the real world, if only for a while.

Not only is reading fun, it can have a positive impact on our wellbeing too – for both adults and kids.

To mark World Book Day today (March 3), experts explain seven ways reading is a wellbeing booster…

1. Stress relief

“When we read, we focus on the narrative and can get lost in the depth and texture of the story, thereby halting intrusive and repetitive thoughts that may trigger the stress response,” says Dr Meg Arroll, a chartered psychologist working with Healthspan. “In this manner, reading can also help with low mood and depressive symptoms,” as well as “raised blood pressure, heart rate and feeling overwhelmed”.

There’s a reason reading to children before bedtime is so popular, says Prof Margareta James from the Harley Street Wellbeing Clinic: “Sharing and enjoying a book together is a lovely way to relax. It promotes bonding and allows [children] to escape from the world in a fun way, and immerse themselves in a great story.”

Noel Janis-Norton, director of Calmer Parenting, encourages parents to pass on their love of reading: “Children, teens and adults who regularly read for pleasure have a built-in skill and habit that stands them in good stead when they are feeling sad, angry, worried, jealous or disappointed.”

2. Increases empathy

Whether it’s a tragic true story or an engrossing novel, reading gives us “a unique insight into the lives of others and, by exploring characters, their struggles, relationships and feelings,” says Dr Arroll.

“In psychology we call this the ‘theory of mind’, where we can put ourselves into others’ shoes, see alternative points of view, attribute beliefs, feelings and desires, all of which helps us to have good quality social relationships.”

3. Emotional awareness

 

Stories are particularly important for helping kids to feel sympathy for other people.

Prof James says: “For young children, it is difficult to connect emotions with words. So, when they read about different characters’ emotions in stories, it helps them learn about and express their emotions better, whilst also developing their self-awareness and empathy.”

4. Social bonds

“Stories are often children’s first encounters with strong emotions in a safe way,” Prof James says, such as going on imaginary adventures and battling evil forces.

“When they share a book with someone, it also helps them with discussing their thoughts, and sometimes worries, about different topics, whilst improving their socio-emotional skills.”

5. Bibliotherapy

Self-help books and novels alike can have a life-changing effect, imparting knowledge about physical and mental health conditions or changing your perspective at a crucial time.

 

“Bibliotherapy is an approach in which information, support and guidance is provided within a book for the reader to explore and process in their own time,” explains Dr Arroll.

For a list of useful titles for adults and children, chosen by members of the public and experts, visit the Reading Wellwebsite (reading-well.org.uk).

6. Cognitive skills

“When children are competent, confident, and enthusiastic readers, they learn more, they remember more, they enjoy school more, and they get better marks and better exam results,” says Janis-Norton.

Reading also encourages kids to be curious about different topics and it has, Prof James says: “A number of cognitive benefits as well, including helping children with improved vocabulary, and an ability to focus and then re-tell the story whilst improving their memory.”

7. Self-esteem and confidence

When reading helps youngsters improve at school, it has two knock-on effects, Janis Norton says: “It opens up more opportunities for that child, and it boosts his or her self-esteem and self-image.”

Plus, the characters they read about can act as positive role models, she adds: “I’ve known instances of both boys and girls having improved their social skills, their empathy, their habits, even their determination to do well at school by imitating, often unconsciously, the characters in beloved books.”

More from Lifestyle

  • Five Of The Greatest Rollercoasters In The World

    Across the globe, amusement parks compete to offer the most thrilling and unforgettable coaster experiences. Let's take a thrilling ride through five of the greatest rollercoasters that stand as testaments to innovation, engineering prowess, and pure adrenaline-fueled fun:

  • Five Of The Most Unique Pastries Worldwide

    Pastries, with their delicate layers, exquisite fillings, and intricate designs, are beloved treats enjoyed across the globe. While many are familiar with classics like croissants, ├ęclairs, and baklava, the world of pastries extends far beyond these well-known delights. From the streets of Tokyo to the cafes of Paris, let's embark on a delectable journey to discover five of the most unique pastries that tantalize taste buds and ignite culinary curiosity:

  • Be Well, Move Happy: Gardening & Connecting with Nature

    Spring is a wonderful time of year to get out and enjoy our natural world. Sara Whatley looks at connecting with nature for wellness and gardening for fitness

  • Five Countryside Locations Perfect For Warmer Weather

    As the temperature rises and the sun begins to shine (just about!), there's no better time to explore the picturesque British countryside. From rolling hills to serene lakeshores, the UK boasts an abundance of natural beauty waiting to be discovered. If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the tranquillity of nature, here are five British countryside locations perfect for warmer weather:

  • Five Of The Most Unique Cakes Worldwide

    Cakes are more than just desserts; they are edible works of art that reflect culture, tradition, and innovation. While classic cakes like chocolate and vanilla remain timeless favourites, there exists a world of cakes that push the boundaries of creativity and taste. From intricate designs to unusual ingredients, here are five of the most unique cakes from around the globe:

Get Social