March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

UK Study Links Kids’ Pleasure Reading to Strong School Performance

The University of London’s Institute of Education (IOE) has announced the release of a study showing that children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers. The study, which is one of the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on children’s cognitive development over time, finds that children who read for pleasure made more progress in learning math, vocabulary, and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.

The research was conducted by IOE researchers Dr. Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown, who analyzed the reading behavior of approximately 6,000 children being followed by the 1970 British Cohort Study, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. They looked at how often the teenagers read during childhood and their test results in math, vocabulary, and spelling at ages 5, 10 and 16.

“It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help to improve children’s maths scores,” Sullivan says in the institute’s announcement. “But it is likely that strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.”

The researchers compared children from the same social backgrounds who had achieved the same test scores as each other at age 5 and at age 10. Their finding? Kids who read often at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 gained higher results at age 16 than those who read less regularly.

The study also found that reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education. The combined effect on kids’ progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly, and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage kids gained from having a parent with a degree.

In addition, the study found that kids who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way.

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.



  1. Tracey Williams says:

    A Kids Summer Book Club in John Creek
    On Friday, June 28th 2013, six children, ages 9 to 11, assembled at 558 Johns Creek to kick-off a kid’s summer book club. The idea was the brain child of Mrs. Tracey A. Williams- Payne. The kick off meeting started around 6:30pm and included kids from John Creeks, Cimarron and a couple of other surrounding communities. The club included extended friends from school and church.
    An agenda was set that included introductions, a check-in (telling something exciting they had done), selecting, setting ground rules, collecting the first book and agreeing on the number of chapters to be read for the next meeting. The children meet weekly on Mondays to discuss chapters read and exciting vocabulary words not known in the book. We also include an interesting, kids friendly Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) talks. The children also get to play outside for a few minutes after the meeting is finish.
    At the kickoff meeting the kids choose the name “The A Team Book Club” which beat out the name, “The Thunder Bunnies Book Club”. The first book the children read was, “Neil Armstrong is My Uncle And Other Lies Muscle Man Mcginty Told Me” by Nan Marino. The book was recommended by one of the parent to get things started. The children polish off this 154 page book in two week on Monday, July 15th and were ready for their second one. The kids choose the “Candymakers” by Wendy Mass as the second read during the previous week to have the book ordered time for Monday, July 15th. The children reviewed about 5 book trailers and the “Candymakers” was the top choice. Surprisingly, the book turns out to be a 5-part book with 453 pages.
    A 453 page book is no challenge for “The A Team Book Club”, the children has agreed on a pace of reading 15 to 20 pages a day to complete the book by Monday August 12, 2013 a week before the start of the Saint Johns County 2013-2014 school year. The kids will also visit the FBI Jacksonville location for a tour with the FBI, this will be last of seven weekly meetings the children had during the summer. There are now 10 kids in the club and includes children from as far as Julington Creek and Mandarin. At the last day, the children have decided to continue the book club during the school year.

  2. I am a kindergarten teacher and have read a lot of info over the years on teaching reading. This post is important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16. It’s direct and easy to follow outlining how each step builds on the next. Thank you for one of the best explanations I’ve read anywhere on how to teach a child to read. I use a reading program from to start my kinder students off learning to read

    Dani Rren

  3. Daniele Wren says:

    Pleasure learning definitely has a strong relation to the performance of a kid since young ones learn better when fun is integrated in the lessons. I usually go in search of material to make it more interesting for my kids to learn. This has got me discovering a site that I find very instrumental in schooling young kids. It is filled with insights that I cannot seem to find anywhere else. Any parent who wants to make the learning of their child more fun should head out there.

    Daniele Wren