How Reading can benefit children’s mental health

Reading can benefit children’s mental health alongside having other positive impacts on child development leading into adulthood. Regular reading can have a positive impact on a child’s emotional and cognitive development, which can translate into better mental health in the long run.

A child reading Tatty Ava and pointing to the animals in the book.
Tatty Ava

Here are just a few of the ways reading can be beneficial for children’s mental health:

Reduces anxiety & stress

Reading can be a relaxing and calming activity, which can help children to reduce stress and anxiety levels. It provides a mental escape from the worries and pressures of everyday life and helps to create a sense of calm.

Ability to regulate emotions

Children who read regularly can develop stronger emotional regulation skills, as they learn to understand and navigate their own emotions and the emotions of others through gaining empathy with the characters and storylines in books.

Boosts self-esteem

Reading can increase a child’s confidence and self-esteem, as they gain a sense of accomplishment from reading and understanding complex texts. Children can achieve greater empathy with others through the understanding of characters feeling. This can also develop into a deeper understanding of themselves, resulting in them becoming more confident and aware of themselves.

Illustration from The Scary Sunflower Story.

Develop language skills

Reading helps children to develop their language skills, as they encounter new vocabulary and practice their comprehension skills. This can lead to improved communication and stronger relationships with others.

This is particularly prevalent when reading with younger children. As you read and discuss the storyline, alongside pictures, your child gains valuable support with their speech and language skills.

An illustration of Tatty Ava brushing her hair. On the illustration you can see lots of different items hidden in her hair as she brushes, including a skateboard, a shell, a daisy and a treasure map.
An illustration from the story of Tatty Ava by Layla Gibiliru.

Encourages imagination

Reading stimulates imagination and encourages children to think creatively. It also introduces children to new ideas and perspectives, which can help to broaden their minds and expand their worldview. Children may then be inspired to create their own stories, which could improve their writing or drawing skills (depending on how they choose to tell their story). The Scary Sunflower story is a perfect example of how a child can be inspired to write their own stories. In this book, a writing activity is included for other children to explore their own imagination and create their own unique stories.

"The Scary Sunflower" book cover. The book cover hows a sunflower with a sneaky smile.
“The Scary Sunflower” written by Idreese Gibiliru. Our first “written by children for children” children’s book.

Promotes empathy

Reading about the experiences of others can increase empathy and understanding, as children develop an emotional connection with the characters and storylines in books. If children read about a diversity of characters, they will also gain empathy with people who are different to them.

A picture of three Origami Sunflower bookmarks on the top of a kraft book.
Sunflower origami bookmarks

Enhances Memory

Introducing longer books at a young age increases children’s attention span. As children progress onto longer books, their reading will require children to remember details, such as characters, settings, and events. This will their attention to detail and can help to improve their memory skills.

YouTube short on why you should use a bookmark.

Encourages critical thinking

Reading and discussing books can encourage children to think critically and analyze complex issues and themes. This can help to develop their problem-solving and decision-making skills, which can be beneficial for their mental health and overall well-being.

A page from Tatty Ava that shows the dinosaur mama. Next to the Tatty Ava book is a large Dinosaur poppet. With a word search drawn on each bubble to pop.
Tatty Ava Book and activity

Reading is a powerful and valuable tool for promoting mental well-being in children. By fostering empathy, reducing stress and anxiety, and encouraging imagination and critical thinking, reading can help to lay the foundation for a happy and healthy life. Encourage your child to pick up a book and find their love for reading today!

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