Why is reading for pleasure important?

Reading is one of the most accessible and affordable arts activities and its benefits are well documented – OECD research shows that reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success. It’s even a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.

Books and reading transform lives and enrich our communities.


The UK’s National Literacy Trust has released research which shows that interacting with others over books develops social and oral skills, leading to increased social interaction and oral language development, becoming a source of pleasure throughout life.

The research also shows that reading for pleasure at school is strongly influenced by relationships between teachers and children, and children and families. Parents are influential in developing early reading for enjoyment, and if books are valued from a young age, this is likely to continue. We need to take a collective and collaborative approach across school and community. This is why our Writers in Communities projects are so important.

Studies have found that exposure to fiction increases empathy, as well as having a positive correlation with social support. Reading for pleasure has health benefits including reducing stress: Mindlab International’s research found that tension eased and heart rates slowed down in subjects who read silently for as little as six minutes.

Research on the benefits of reading: