Can reading improve your intelligence? Scientists say yes


What kind of impact does reading have on overall academic success? A HUGE one! Just ask any teacher, and they’ll be happy to expound on the ways that reading — doing it a lot, doing it increasingly well — can boost your child’s grades and overall academic career. But teachers shouldn’t have all the fun: We want to chime in with some intriguing research, too!

Consider this recent study of identical twins conducted in the United Kingdom: Scientists gathered data about the pairs’ test scores in reading and intelligence at various ages from 7 to 16. They found that differences in reading during their childhood years affected their later differences in intelligence, both verbal (such as vocabulary tests) and nonverbal (such as reasoning tests). Furthermore, they discovered that the relevant differences were present by age 7 — suggesting that even early reading skills affect intellectual development. You can read more about the study here.

“Every measure that looks at pleasure reading and its effects on student performance on standardized tests of reading ability — and science and math — tells us that the major predictor of academic success is the amount of time that a student spends reading. In fact, the top 5 percent of U.S. students read up to 144 times more than the kids in the bottom 5 percent.” — Nancie Atwell, in her book “The Reading Zone”

But you probably don’t need a scientist to tell you that reading is the key to unlocking the door to a vast world general knowledge. That’s apparent in the earliest days of elementary school, when students use even basic reading skills during lessons in science, social studies, and more. The greater the reading skills become, the more complex knowledge they can learn! Two more benefits that are obvious even at a young age: As developing readers move into chapter books, they increase their intellectual stamina and their ability to sit down and concentrate.

Reading also expands vocabulary, which improves those all-important test scores and leads to articulate speech, a lifelong skill that is valued in any career field. Reading improves writing ability, too: Successful authors have long known that one way to boost their own creative abilities is to read the work of others. The same applies to students.

Significantly, all of these benefits expand with practice: The more you read, the better you get at reading — and the more rewards you reap! So whether your student is reluctant or ravenous when it comes to books, encourage them to keep reading. The results are undeniable!

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