Don’t Judge the Cover: Reading for pleasure is important


Caroline Bock

Some of the books in the Kincaid Media Center students have access to. The books are rarely used and available to every student.

Caroline Bock, Contributor

The first time I realized I enjoyed reading was in 2nd grade. I reluctantly began to read “The Boxcar Children” because it was raining, and I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. 

In the beginning, it was hard I had to force myself to get through the first few chapters and I nearly gave up, but after that, I was captivated. I read every “Boxcar Children” book I could find, at school and in the library, and my love of reading has only grown. 

Reading transports you to different worlds and exposes you to unique situations and ideas that you might never experience in your own life. It helps you grow a better understanding of the world around you. Finding a way to enjoy reading has benefited me in so many ways, and I think if other people tried it they would also enjoy it. 

According to the American Psychological Association, less than 20% of teens report reading daily for pleasure. I think that one of the main reasons for this is that people are typically first introduced to reading while at school. Reading books for school is rarely an enjoyable experience instead it’s tedious and dull.

 Since reading for school is so miserable from a young age, it discourages many people from trying to read when they aren’t required to. Reading on your own is different and more pleasant for many reasons. 

For starters, you can pick the books you want to read. You don’t have to read something assigned to you, you can pick what interests you and what you find entertaining whether that’s fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, romance, etc. There are so many options, many of which we aren’t exposed to during school. 

You also get to pick when you read. Not being able to do this is what invokes the most dread about school reading in my experience, but when you are reading for pleasure you get to pick for how long you read and at what times. There are no deadlines. You can take as long as you want to read a book, and you don’t have to do any work about the book after or while you are reading it. 

Once you take all the work and requirements out of reading it changes things. Reading becomes so much lighter and easier to enjoy. 

If that still doesn’t convince people to at least try and read outside of school, they should know reading is extremely beneficial in many different ways, but most noticeably when it comes to academic success and health. 

A study by the Institute for Education found that students that read for pleasure had a 14.4% advantage in vocabulary and a 9.9% advantage in math over those who did not read. Students who read for pleasure also score exceptionally higher on reading and other subjects on standardized tests. 

Reading provides mental and physical health benefits as well. A study by the University of Sussex found that reading for just an extra 6 minutes a day can reduce stress levels by over 68% and is more effective at reducing stress than any other alternative methods, such as listening to music or going for a walk. Research also shows that reading helps preserve brain health into old age and prevents the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

On top of mental health, reading benefits long and short-term physical health. A Yale study found that readers on average live two years longer than non-readers, regardless of gender, wealth, education, or health. By reading, you can quite literally increase the longevity of your life. 

Reading for pleasure has been scientifically proven to help improve health and academics and many people are missing out by not even attempting to read outside of when they’re required. 

I’ve heard many people say they are too busy and don’t have time to read. I completely understand I am busy too. Between school work and practices finding time to read can seem daunting, but I think finding time to read is important and is a lot easier than some people think. 

One way I have found that makes finding time to read easier is by downloading books to my phone.  By downloading ebooks from my library, I am able to read on my phone more frequently, like when I’m waiting in line or riding in a car, time that I would otherwise spend on social media. By putting books on my phone reading has become more accessible and an easy alternative to social media. 

Another way I create time to read is by reading before bed. Reading before bed is nice because it doesn’t take time out of the other things I do during the day. Depending on how tired I am I can read a few pages or a few chapters. By having a set time after I’m done with my day I make sure I get a few minutes of reading in every night. 

Reading before bed is a great way to unwind after a long day because you are able to immerse yourself in a story and not worry about the events of the day or the next one. 

Reading is a great pastime, and if more people tried it outside of school, they would see that it.  It provides so many benefits to your character and health, many of which can be statistically proven. I would encourage people to keep an open mind when it comes to reading and try to pick up some books on their own because no one ever regrets reading more.