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Research about Reading

What have research studies found about the impact of increased reading?

This page examines research studies which focus on the effects of reading on individuals of different ages, genders, backgrounds, amongst other variables, and on schools as a community.


Why does reading matter? Why should I read?


There are a lot of ways to answer this question, such as:


For personal enjoyment and entertainment.


​(But if one does not enjoy it now, why do we strive to instil a love of reading?)

For personal growth and the expanding of one's perspective.


For social and emotional benefits - to grow empathy and understanding of others.

And of course, for the diverse cognitive and linguistic benefits - the sharpening of one's mind. 

But what exactly are these benefits?

Have they been demonstrated by research?

How significant are they? (Or is this just urban library myth?)

Summary Findings in Research Evidence on Reading for Pleasure

from the British Ministry for Education, by the Education Standards Research Team (2012).

A comprehensive yet accessible report, the images below (page 3 an page 9 respectively) show just a taste of the entire report.

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Education standards research team. (2012). Research evidence on reading for pleasure. Department for Education, UK. Retrieved from

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An eye-opening look at the research examining the impact of Sustained Silent Reading, and what makes it more or less effective.

In this Google Books preview to the left, you can scroll through at almost all of the "Eighty-Three Generalizations About Free Voluntary Reading" - I strongly recommend checking these out, just to give a taste!

Krashen, S. (2011). Free voluntary reading. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.


This online preview is retrieved from

Other sources of research on the benefits of reading

Bridges, L. (2014). The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion. New York: Scholastic. Retrieved from

Executive summary:

Cunningham, A. E., & Stanovich, K. E. (2001). What reading does for the mind. Journal of Direct Instruction, 1(2), pp. 137–149. Retrieved


"Reading has cognitive consequences that extend beyond its immediate task of lifting meaning from a particular passage. Furthermore, these consequences are reciprocal and exponential in nature. Accumulated over time—spiraling either upward or downward—they carry profound implications for the development of a wide range of cognitive capabilities" (p. 137).

Clark, C., & Rumbold, K. (2006). Reading for pleasure: A research overview. National Literacy Trust. Retrieved from

Support resources for encouraging the love of reading

Open a World of Possible - "Helping Children Discover the Pleasure and Power of Reading" - from Scholastic, with resources for teachers, parents, kids, librarians and administrators.

Reading Rockets - "Launching young readers!" - Website focusing on the teaching of children to read.

Example article, by Texas Education Agency: "What Research Tells Us About Reading, Comprehension, and Comprehension Instruction":

Rumberger, A. (2018). Libraries offer freedom from reading level limitations. Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from

A interesting look at why the freedom of choice is so important for readers, and how a reading level can limit or define young, striving readers.

Burton, S. (2018). Re-Making Stories: A Critical and Creative Early  Literacy Development Project [Video]. Retrieved from 

Resources to promote a reading and a reading culture

Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell on why we need libraries – an essay in pictures.

"Two great champions of reading for pleasure return to remind us that it really is an important thing to do – and that libraries create literate citizens"

Gaiman, N. & Riddell, C. (). Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell on why we need libraries – an essay in pictures. Retrieved from 

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Slideshare from LinkedIn Learning:

Combes, B. (2010, October 16). How much do traditional literacy skills count? Literacy in the 21st century & reading from the screen [Presentation slides]. Retrieved from

Guillermo Matia. (2016). The best short film of the world to foster reading. Retrieved from

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Gough, K. (2019). The importance of a school reading culture. Retrieved from

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