Reading for pleasure shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure

Ellen Irvine | Account Manager Lifestyle

Mom reading a book to son

I got my latest reading recommendation from Reese Witherspoon. The actress, who owns a successful film production company and is a leading supporter of women in Hollywood, is also a keen advocate of reading for pleasure. 

Her Instagram page @Reese’sBookClubHelloSunshine was created #ForTheLoveOfStory, and is something of an Oprah’s book club for the modern age – a platform to recommend books which avid readers can discuss on Instagram or a corresponding Facebook page.

I can vouch for her December pick, The Last Mrs Parrish, by Liv Constantine – the type of book that keeps you up at night for ‘just one more chapter’.

With Netflix and internet-surfing taking up much of our at-home leisure time, reading books for pleasure is something of a lost art. So it’s great to see influencers encouraging the love of a good novel.

According to the New Zealand Book Council, OECD research shows that reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success. It’s an even more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.

But it also has continuing benefits into adulthood – exposure to fiction increases empathy, as well as having a positive correlation with social support. Reading for pleasure has health benefits including reducing stress, the book council says.

A child who reads becomes an adult who thinks (and reads). That’s why initiatives encouraging children to read for pleasure are important.

The Curiously Good Book Club is a digital and real-life community where people can share knowledge about great books for children and find creative ways to encourage children to love to read. The Wright Family Foundation shares with Gecko Press the belief that one good book can spark a lifetime love of reading, and is a supporter of this initiative and others that encourage literacy in children.

Like the Kids’ Lit Quiz – an annual international literature quiz for students aged 10-13 years, with the goal of encouraging children to read for pleasure, widening their range of books, and to celebrate their knowledge.  The quiz provides avid readers with a chance to shine, and the competitors bond instantly over their love for reading.

They’ll also be increasing their social currency – UK National Literacy Trust research 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.

Not that I needed any more convincing to grab myself the latest page-turner. You’ll be sure to find me curled up on a sofa this weekend, reading my pal Reese’s latest recommendation.