5 Ways That Reading Makes Kids Healthy and Strong
Disclaimer: The information in this article does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
With TV, iPads, and all of the tempting technology out there, the timeless benefits of old-fashioned reading can be easily forgotten. But science supports this fact: reading is one of the healthiest activities for kids and the whole family. That’s because literacy and health are inextricably linked. From picture books to novels, and read-alouds to quiet time, reading helps kids grow up healthy and strong.
Reading builds connections
When cozy reading sessions become part of the daily routine, reading becomes a safe and comforting ritual. As older children and teens learn to read independently, talking about favorite books becomes a fun and healthy way to connect with other people.
For families raising bilingual children, reading books in different languages is an important way to cultivate healthy relationships with relatives of various cultures.
In turn, connection to family and the community strengthens a person’s mental health and well-being.
Reading grows vocabulary
Through books, kids and their parents can learn new complex words together. As their vocabulary grows, children have more tools to describe how they feel, what they think, and why something is happening. For example, books about the human body can teach kids real names of body parts and how organs work. If children have questions about their body, they can use the words they learned to communicate their curiosities and concerns.
Childhood reading fluency sets the stage for future health literacy. When people can understand basic health information, like nutrition facts, doctor’s recommendations, and medication labels, they can be empowered to make healthy decisions.
Reading normalizes diversity
Children who are surrounded by diversity get to learn more about all types of people, and books make diversity just a reach away.
Why is this important? Ableism and racism are dangerous to individual and public health.
Through diverse books, children can learn about protagonists with different cultural backgrounds as well as physical and cognitive abilities. In addition, seeing characters of different colors, shapes, and sizes can help children develop a healthy body image.
Reading inspires strength
Whether your child is reading fictional adventures or factual history, children gain a better understanding of other people’s experiences and struggles, such as health, environmental, and political challenges. Each character in a book can become a role model for physical, emotional, and spiritual resilience.
Reading prepares for rest
What better way to end a busy day than by curling up with a good book? Reading can help kids sleep better – but it depends on what is being read.
Debating between an ebook or a physical book? Research shows that digital books are more stimulating compared to physical ones. That’s because light from screens can stop your brain from making the sleep hormone, melatonin.
The topic of the book can also affect your ability to sleep. For example, an action-packed murder mystery might trigger stress and excitement. Obviously, this might pose a challenge to falling asleep. In contrast, a light-hearted topic can slowly relax your body for sleepy time.
About Betty Choi, M.D.
Dr. Betty Choi is a Havard-trained pediatrician, mother, and author of Human Body Learning Lab. As the founder of Chalk Academy and Human Body Learning, her greatest passion is making learning memorable and meaningful for families.