Reading plays a significant part in everybody’s life. The ways in which people access information have changed primarily due to the increased use of technology; E-books, audiobooks, and online articles have become increasingly popular because they offer convenience and accessibility.

Despite the merits, digital formats present challenges to traditional reading habits; the constant barrage of information in short, easily comprehensible extracts can erode our attention spans and hinder deep and thought-provoking reading. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds but, in 2023, research has shown that the average attention span is now 8 seconds, which is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (9 seconds).

Decrease in Reading

Since 2005, the National Literacy Trust has conducted yearly reading for pleasure surveys. In 2023, the percentage of respondents who said they enjoyed reading was the lowest it had ever been, with two out of five (43%).

Despite this, it's encouraging to note that since 2005, the proportion of 14 to 16-year-olds who find reading enjoyable has increased from 32% to 41% in 2023. This rise could be attributed to more engaging literature aimed at this age group, as well as trends like "Booktok," which have provided publishers with a new channel to connect with young adults.

Benefits of Reading

The importance of books in our lives is manifold. Whenever we are sad, bored, or stressed, picking up a book helps us to escape to another world, a world free of worries and reality and filled with various characters, worlds and storylines. Printed or online, a book is a labyrinth of information that plays a vital role in developing our imagination and growing our learning. Reading helps you develop ideas about your favourite hobbies, interests, and celebrities and introduces you to new cultures, concepts and viewpoints.

Books can help you become more ingenious not just as a student in school but also in the broader world. It enables you to become a better speaker and helps enhance your writing skills and vocabulary. Reading helps us by giving our brain muscles exercise and prevents the possibility of lethargy; the words you read require comprehension skills, help you develop analytical skills, boost your memory, and expand your imagination.

Encouragement to Read

  • Booktok – In a survey of over 2,000 16 to 25-year-olds, nearly half of the participants stated that BookTok had assisted them in developing a love of reading. Additionally, the 2023 What Kids Are Reading Report states that 1.3 million students in the UK read over 27 million books during the 2021–2022 academic year, a 24% increase from the previous year. The most popular books among secondary students were written by Alice Oseman and Colleen Hoover. Numerous users reported using BookTok to "discover their favourite books, which they wouldn't have considered reading before."
  • Recommendations – The biggest influence in encouraging children and young people to read is having books recommended to them, with 38% or two in five young people saying book recommendations would encourage them to want to read.
  • Representation – The importance of representation remains apparent, as seen by a third of respondents to the National Literacy Trust's annual survey, who said they would rather read novels that represent them.

Every student's education should include reading, as it is an essential activity that stimulates curiosity and helps children visualise and imagine while also enhancing their memory cells. Reading strengthens the neurobiological muscles in your brain. By doing this, you can even lessen the rate at which memory degrades and slow down cognitive decline. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have even shown that reading lowers the brain's concentration of beta-amyloid, a molecule linked to Alzheimer's disease.

“Everyone is a reader… some just haven’t found their favourite book yet” - anonymous.