Childhood bookworms who love to read become happier and smarter teenagers, according to a new study.The University of Cambridge researchers found reading for 12 hours a week was optimal for youngsters to develop bigger and better brains.
Performing well in memory and speech, verbal learning, and general academic tests was strongly linked with reading for pleasure between two and nine years old.
The kids also tended to sleep longer and spend less time staring at screens.
Despite the benefits, almost half of the 10,000 teens studied had little experience of reading for pleasure or didn’t pick up a book for fun until later childhood.
The other half, 52 percent, spent between three and ten years turning pages for enjoyment according to the research developed by the University of Warwick and Fudan University, China, as well as Cambridge.
A key discovery was that participants who read for pleasure at an early age had “moderately larger” total brain area and volumes, including in regions critical for cognitive function.
The prime amount of reading time was 12 hours a week, beyond that there were apparent extra benefits.
Researchers added that there could actually be a cognitive decline because it suggests they are spending more time sedentary than they are engaged in other mentally-enriching activities like sports and social activities.
“But on top of this, we found significant evidence that it’s linked to important developmental factors in children, improving their cognition, mental health, and brain structure, which are cornerstones for future learning and well-being.”
Unlike listening and speaking a language – skills that are developed rapidly and easily among youngsters – the ability to read is taught and acquired over time.
Our brains develop during childhood and adolescence, meaning the years are crucial for establishing behavior patterns that support our cognitive development.However, until this 10,243-person study, the impact of early years’ reading has remained unclear.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker