Reading, especially leisure or recreational reading, has real benefits for the brain and improves the reader’s verbal skills according to a recent study by a group of Canadian researchers.

People read for various reasons; to meet professional or school requirements, to keep stay up-to-date on latest events, or just as a pastime. Reading sources are obviously very diverse, with a growing predominance of digital channels, especially social networks. Fortunately, books have not yet fallen into disuse, although it is losing a lot of ground among young people.

A series of research has found some rather unexpected benefits of reading; long-time readers are generally more understanding, more empathetic, and more impartial. Better yet: they benefit from a longer life expectancy and healthier aging. In fact, reading nourishes mental faculties, with emotional and social repercussions that contribute to psychological well-being and physical health.

In this context, a Canadian team (Concordia University) investigated the association between reading and verbal skills, in other words the ability to express oneself orally. A range of parameters were considered: richness of vocabulary, clarity of the subject, pronunciation, fluency, confidence… The researchers tested these linguistic skills with a group of young adults (university students), depending on whether or not they were “leisure readers”, with an attraction for novels. This type of literature is of particular interest since it is a choice rather than an obligation. Participants took a questionnaire to measure “reading factors”, and then took a reading skill test and a language test (speaking skills).

Analysis shows that those who perform better in verbal skills read more for fun, especially fiction. The researchers say, “Leisure reading is a declining hobby, especially among young people. To renew the interest in this activity, through parents and teachers, it is good to emphasize not only its entertaining aspect but also its positive cognitive effects, here in terms of verbal skills “.

Joseph Mandell

Mandell is currently working towards a medical degree from the University of Central Florida. His main passions include kayaking, playing soccer and tasting good food. He covers mostly science, health and environmental stories for the Scientific Origin.