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As reported by the BBC, a new study by the Institute of Education at London University looked at the reading habits of 6000 children.  The results show that reading for pleasure is more important to a child’s development than the education level of their parents. 

The conclusion was that because of their wider vocabulary due to reading, children did better across the curriculum.  Children who read more than once a week for pleasure had a 14.4% advantage in vocabulary, a 9.9% advantage in mathematics, and an 8.6% advantage in spelling. 

Perhaps most surprising is the correlation with mathematics where one might expect the vocabulary impact to be less.  Here is the explanation from the study’s author:

"It absolutely makes sense that you would expect reading for pleasure to improve children’s vocabularies.

"But I think that that also does improve children’s ability to take on new information and new concepts across the curriculum.

"A child who has a narrow vocabulary may constantly be coming across things they don’t understand."