Research spotlight: Early childhood reading

Children who read for pleasure tend to perform better at cognitive tests and have better mental health according to a study by psychologists from the UK and China.

A strong link was found between reading for pleasure at an early age and a positive performance in adolescence on cognitive tests and at school academic achievement. These children also had better mental wellbeing, showing fewer signs of stress and depression, as well as improved attention and fewer behavioural problems.

The findings come amid declining levels of reading for pleasure among children and young people in Australia, with recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing children’s reading for pleasure dropped from 79% in 2018 to 72% in 2022.

Cosmos Magazine reported on the study and Australian research in this area, and spoke to Australia Reads staff member, Anna Burkey about the findings who noted:

‘the more that we can do to empower young people to read, to give them access to books, [and] to as a society, visibly value books, the more that we will have a literate, empathetic, next generation.’

The work happening through Australia Reads is part of this mission – to urgently advocate for more support for building a reading nation, and we’ll look at some of the barriers to reading for pleasure as part of the VOLUME online symposium on 21 September 2023.