Reading fictional books for fun improves language skills, study finds

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Montreal, Quebec – Looking for a good read to start 2022? A recent study finds that choosing something from the fiction section can also help improve your verbal skills while having fun. Researchers at Concordia University in Canada say that reading for fun, especially when it comes to fiction, improves reader’s scores on language tests.

Fiction books – from “The Hunger Games” to “Harry Potter” – often do not receive the same praise for their educational benefits as their non-fiction counterparts. However, the team found that reading for fun led to higher test scores than those who read only for “function” – to gain specific knowledge from a non-fiction book.

“It’s always very positive and encouraging to give people permission to dive into the show they love. I compare it to research that says chocolate is good for you: the guilty pleasure of reading fiction is associated with cognitive benefits and positive verbal outcomes, ”says Sandra Martin-Chang, professor of education at Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in a university outing.

Reading is fundamental

Researchers used Raymond Mar from York University Predictors of recreational reading (PoLR) scale to measure reading behavior. They then determined the ability of the PoLR scores to predict the language skills of 200 undergraduates.

After completing the PoLR scale, students were required to take SAT-type language tests as well as the Author Recognition Test, which measures various reading habits. The higher the score, the stronger the candidate’s reading and language skills. The results were clear: pleasure and interest in reading predicted higher language skills. In addition, reading fiction was more strongly associated with these high scores than reading non-fiction.

It is clear that reading for fun is very beneficial for children and adults alike. Studies show that regular reading is linked to better social skills, critical thinking and empathy, in addition to improved language skills, vocabulary and comprehension.

“This ingrained interest, wanting to read something over and over again, feeling compelled to read an entire series, feeling connected to the characters and the writers, are all good things,” concludes Martin-Chang.

The results appear in the newspaper Read and write.


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