Sometimes getting your kiddos to read can be the biggest challenge of the day. As educators, we know that reading has so many benefits for our students; it boosts their problem-solving abilities, develops their vocabularies, and can even have a positive impact on their mental health! We’ve rounded up 40 of the most shocking and surprising facts about reading that will help you show your kiddos just how amazing this simple skill is. We bet a few of these facts will have you reaching for a book a little more often too! Let’s dive in!
1. Reading can boost brain connectivity!
Did you know that reading fiction can improve brain connectivity and function? It’s a super way to boost your readers’ abilities to put themselves in another person’s shoes and become more empathetic. Interestingly, regular reading can also increase their neural connectivity, particularly in the somatosensory cortex, which is the area responsible for physical sensations!
Learn More: ABC News
2. It’s an effective method of reducing stress.
Reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68%! This makes it even more effective and quicker than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or settling down with a hot drink. The best part is, according to research from the University of Sussex, the calming effect of reading can be achieved by reading for just six minutes!
Learn More: Reading Partners
3. Reading can prolong your life.
A study conducted by Yale University researchers found that people who read books regularly have a 23% lower risk of dying over the next 12 years compared with non-readers. The study found that reading a book for around 3 and a half hours per week provides a more significant benefit than reading newspapers or magazines.
Learn More: Mental Floss
4. Reading aloud to kids is great for their early development.
Reading in general is greatly beneficial to children’s brain development, but reading aloud to children can have even more of an impact. It helps to boost their vocabularies and can better their language skills, enhance concentration, and have an all-around positive effect on their learning. Moreover, it strengthens children’s social, emotional, and character development.
Learn More: EdSource
5. Adults can usually read at a rate of around 250-300 words per minute.
By the time we’re adults, we can read about 250 to 300 words per minute, and this actually increases to around 450 words per minute for college students! Reading speeds can vary widely depending on the difficulty of the text and the reader’s skill, but the more practice someone gets, the faster they’ll read.
Learn More: Words Rated
6. Reading regularly can expand your vocabulary by 15% each year!
Reading regularly is one of the most efficient ways to increase vocabulary. It’s estimated that if you’re a keen reader you’ll be exposed to up to 15 percent more words than a non-reader in the space of just one year! This exposure is significantly higher for readers of fiction books.
Learn More: Scholastic
7. Reading is a great way to develop empathy.
It’s been shown that engaging with fictional stories can lead people to become more empathetic and have better social skills. Through understanding the thoughts and feelings of characters, the readers develop a greater ability to understand those of real people! This phenomenon is known as the “theory of mind”, a key component of empathy.
Learn More: Discover Magazine
8. It’s the perfect way to give your brain a workout with some cognitive exercises!
We all know how important it is to get some physical exercise to keep our bodies healthy, but what about our brains? Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body; it involves phonemic awareness, visual and auditory processes, comprehension, fluency, and more. All of this cognitive exercise works to improve brain function and can even prevent cognitive decline as we get older!
Learn More: Bookstr
9. E-book sales account for around one-quarter of all books sold around the world.
E-book sales have been rising steadily and are projected to account for about a quarter of all book sales worldwide! Lots of us appreciate the convenience of carrying multiple books on one device instead of having to lug around a stack of hardbacks! However, some studies have suggested that reading comprehension may be better when reading from physical books rather than screens.
Learn More: Words Rated
10. The first novel ever written was penned over 1000 years ago.
The general consensus among scholars is that the first novel ever written was “The Tale of Genji” by Murasaki Shikibu. Written in the early 11th century in Japan, this work is considered particularly important in the history of literature and it has had a profound influence on Japanese culture. It’s often called the world’s first modern novel!
Learn More: Book Riot
11. There’s an important link that exists between reading and writing.
It may go without saying, but regular reading can actually lead to improved writing skills! As we read, we pick up on the different writers’ language, communication, and narrative styles, all of which can in turn influence how we use those skills in our own writing.
Learn More: Boom Writer
12. Reading before bed can help you to get a better night’s sleep!
Ever found yourself struggling to drift off to sleep or having a restless night? Studies have shown that reading before bed can contribute to better sleep, especially if it is part of a consistent bedtime routine. The act of picking up a book and reading can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. However, it’s important to note that reading on a screen before bed can have the opposite effect due to blue light emissions!
Learn More: Healthline
13. Bibliotherapy is an approach where books or other literature are used as a form of therapy.
Reading has been found to have therapeutic benefits and when combined with supportive counseling sessions can effectively combat mental health conditions like depression. Bibliotherapy can provide an escape from reality, as well as comfort and companionship through characters and narratives.
Learn More: Verywell Mind
14. Local libraries play a vital role in improving literacy in the community.
Public libraries play a super important role in promoting literacy and reading in the community. These amazing local services provide access to books and other fantastic resources for all ages, often free of charge! They also offer various programs to encourage reading and writing skills among children and adults; they really are such a benefit to our local communities!
Learn More: Punch Newspapers
15. The Harry Potter effect is a real, and documented phenomenon!
The well-known Harry Potter series has had a significant impact on literacy rates. In 2005, over half of the children surveyed said that they felt the series had improved their reading skills and teachers agreed! These books have been credited with sparking a love of reading in a generation of children with the phenomenon being dubbed the “Harry Potter effect”.
Learn More: Psychology Today
16. There are special techniques out there to help you read faster.
Have you ever tried speed reading? These techniques can help increase reading speed without a significant loss of comprehension and include things like minimizing subvocalization, using a pointer to guide the eyes, and expanding your peripheral vision to read more than one word at a time. As cool as they sound, these techniques often require a lot of practice and may not be equally effective for all types of reading material.
Learn More: Medium
17. The most-read book in the world is generally considered to be the Bible.
You might be surprised to learn that the Bible is considered to be the most-read book in the world! It has been translated into numerous languages and distributed widely across the globe. It’s estimated that around 40 million copies have been sold in the last 60 years alone! The Quran, The Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung, and the Harry Potter series also rank highly on this list.
Learn More: Quora
18. Reading can be the key to academic success.
Studies have consistently shown a link between reading for pleasure regularly and academic success. Your students who read for enjoyment every day not only usually perform better in tests, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge, and a better understanding of other cultures!
Learn More: Free Kids Books
19. The printing press was invented in 1440 by a man called Johannes Gutenberg.
The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century revolutionized the world of reading. It made books more accessible and affordable for the general public, leading to increased literacy rates and the spread of knowledge. So the next time you’re curled up on the sofa reading a book, you’ve got Johannes Gutenberg to thank!
Learn More: History-Computer
20. Multi-tasking while reading isn’t something our brains are well equipped for.
Reading requires a high level of concentration, and the human brain is not very well-suited to multi-tasking while reading effectively! If you’re not giving your full attention to what you’re reading, the comprehension and retention of the material won’t be as good. It’s best to find a quiet environment free of distractions- difficult in a class full of chatty kids, we know!
Learn More: Inner Drive
21. The gender gap even exists in reading habits and performance.
Statistically, women are more likely to be avid readers than men and this difference starts early; as early as fourth grade in fact! Research has found that the girls in your class are much more likely to be more enthusiastic readers and writers and the gap in performance can widen as kids grow up.
Learn More: Science Daily
22. Reading to dogs has been proven to improve kids’ reading abilities!
Cute programs that allow children to read to dogs have gained so much popularity due to their effectiveness in improving reading skills; also, who doesn’t want a chance to pet a puppy? Reading to a non-judgmental listener like a dog can increase your kiddos’ self-confidence and reduce anxiety, which can make learning to read a much more enjoyable experience for them.
Learn More: The Wildest
23. The fastest reader in the world could read an astonishing 25,000 words per minute!
The fastest reader in the world, according to the Guinness World Records, was Howard Stephen Berg from the United States, who could read 25,000 words per minute. Speed reading has become a little competitive and it’s also seen as a pretty valuable skill. Having the ability to read and process information quickly is sure to be helpful!
Learn More: YouTube
24. Digital e-books are better for the environment providing the e-reader is used long-term.
What’s better for the environment; a book with hundreds of paper pages or an e-reader made from plastic parts that uses electricity? Although the production of e-readers does have a carbon footprint, provided they’re used long-term once produced, they can hold thousands of books, reducing the need for paper and the cutting down of trees!
Learn More: Owlcation
25. Audiobooks are becoming more popular, with 60% of Americans saying they’ve enjoyed one in the last year.
Audiobook popularity has surged in recent years, with many people choosing to listen to books during their daily commutes or while multitasking around the house! Audiobooks make reading accessible for a whole host of people; young kids, those with visual impairments or other disabilities that make reading text difficult, or even people who just don’t have the time to sit down and read!
Learn More: Ebook Friendly
26. There is a book that has stopped a bullet!
This book has 19 chapters and 288 pages, and has actually been able to stop a bullet in its tracks! Each of the 288 pages documents instances of and news about gun violence in America and makes the statement that the book has been able to do something that history hasn’t been able to do in stopping a bullet.
Learn More: One Club
27. The real skill in reading is actually the comprehension of the text.
Reading isn’t just about recognizing and being able to pronounce all of the words on a page, it’s also about understanding the meaning behind them. Reading comprehension is an essential skill that’s covered extensively in schools across all grades, and all around the world; that’s how important it is!
Learn More: Study
28. Reading has shaped the written languages that are used around the world.
As civilizations around the world evolved, there was a need for more of the population to be able to read and write. People moved away from systems like hieroglyphics and towards the creation of alphabets as we now know them. Did you know that the oldest known alphabet was used to write Phoenician, a Semitic language spoken in parts of the Mediterranean from around the 15th century BCE?
Learn More: History
29. The first ever library came into existence around 668 BCE in what is now Iraq.
The first library was created by King Ashurbanipal who ruled over the Assyrian Empire over 2,500 years ago! It is thought that this is the first instance where literary texts have been organized for a purpose that appears to be for recreational use.
Learn More: Ancient Origins
30. Reading can improve your long-term memory.
Regular reading is not only a way to expand our knowledge but it also helps to improve our long-term memory function, helping us to store all that new knowledge! Reading is a great way to stimulate the brain and boost brain connectivity, all of which leads to a better memory retention function over time.
Learn More: Basmo
31. You’ll find that the more time you spend reading, the more easily you’ll be able to concentrate on tasks!
Did you know that reading for just 30 minutes a day can improve focus and concentration? Unlike many activities like scrolling on our phones or watching a TV show, reading a book requires sustained, undivided attention while we complete the activity. Taking time to practice this can actually help to improve our ability to concentrate on tasks for longer periods without getting distracted.
Learn More: The Book Buff
32. Reading can be a super sociable experience.
It’s super easy to make reading a sociable activity! Creating a book club or reading group is the perfect way to get kids and adults alike together for a shared activity. By meeting and discussing the book, you’ll be encouraging everyone to delve deep and discuss the themes of the book through different lenses and perspectives.
Learn More: Readability
33. The Library of Congress is considered to be the world’s largest library.
The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is the largest library in the entire world! Its catalog includes millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts which means that it serves as a great resource for public records and academic research. Not only are the resources great, but the building is also stunning!
Learn More: Exploring Our World
34. Reading more than one book at a time is a great way to challenge yourself and improve your cognitive flexibility!
Most people take books one at a time, but did you know that reading multiple books at once can enhance cognitive ability? The challenge of keeping track of the different narratives and information simultaneously has been shown to improve cognitive flexibility which can result in having much improved problem-solving skills!
Learn More: Iris Reading
35. The introduction of paper changed the way people wrote and read text forever.
It’s probably not surprising that the introduction of paper was a highly significant milestone in the history of reading. Paper was invented in China around the 1st century CE, and it gradually replaced other writing materials like papyrus and vellum due to its cost-effectiveness and ease of production. Paper is so effective that we’re still using it almost 2,000 years on!
Learn More: BBC
36. There’s a whole long and crazy process that goes on between a writer writing their book and you holding a copy in your hands!
There’s no doubt about it; publishers play a crucial role in the reading ecosystem! They are responsible for bringing books to the public, which involves a very detailed and long process including selection, editing, design, production, and marketing. The whole process can take around three years on average!
Learn More: 2012 Book Archive
37. Reading helps your brain to create new neural pathways in your brain.
Reading has a profound effect on the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is its ability to adapt and change. As we read. this can cause new neural pathways to form and existing ones to either strengthen or weaken. This means that the act of reading can literally change the structure of the brain!
Learn More: Life Xchange
38. People with visual impairments are still able to read thanks to the invention of the braille system!
Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or have low vision. Invented by Louis Braille way back in the 19th century, this system has greatly increased the accessibility of reading for the visually impaired! Nowadays everything from bank cards to birthday cards have braille on them!
Learn More: In Focus Charity, Exeter
39. The most expensive book ever sold at auction for a staggering $30.8 million!
The most expensive book ever sold is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex Leicester”, which billionaire Bill Gates purchased at auction for $30.8 million in 1994. This manuscript is over 500 years old and offers insight into the inquiring mind of the ultimate Renaissance artist!
Learn More: CNBC
40. The astronauts on the International Space Station have made a series of videos where they read children’s books from space!
Did you know there are books in space? Astronauts on the International Space Station enjoy reading both for leisure and for work and although the number of physical books sent to space is limited due to weight constraints, digital reading devices are used! The astronauts also have a ‘Stories From Space’ series where they read children’s stories!
Learn More: Stories From Space