STUDENT COMMENTARY: How Reading for Fun Can Help You in the Long Run

Ashlyn Story

For many students, a teacher announcing a reading assignment does not come as good news, and results in a sigh or an eyeroll. While most assignments that call for a lot of reading are usually not how teenagers want to spend their afternoons and weekends, there can be benefits in reading, especially books that interest you personally and are fun for you to read. If Shakespeare isn’t your thing, don’t become discouraged! There are many options in our very own library at PT, making it very easy to find what suits you.

Believe it or not, reading benefits both your mental and physical health. Researchers have confirmed through MRI scans that reading strengthens your brain. In one study when researchers used MRI scans, participants read the novel “Pompeii” over nine days. Their brain activity was monitored, and as tension built in the story, many areas of the brain lit up with activity.

Reading in your free time can also build your vocabulary. People who begin reading books regularly from a young age are proven to gradually develop large vocabularies. A 2019 poll conducted by Cengage showed that 69 percent of employers are looking to hire people who have the ability to communicate effectively, which possessing a larger vocabulary helps with. Reading for fun can even help you get a job in the future!

Settling down for reading time in the afternoon or night can even reduce stress and help to alleviate symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of reading can lower blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of distress. Reading fiction may allow some people to “escape” from their reality, which can help manage symptoms of depression.

Overall, there are many health and wellness benefits to reading regularly in your free time. Next time you’re bored, instead of picking up your phone, consider finding a good book to dive into and become interested in, it will help you in the long run.