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Raising Readers: Why Reading is Beneficial to Children's Mental Well-being and Brain Development


At UNIS Hanoi we consider reading the best homework kids can have in elementary school. Both reading for pleasure and reading aloud with children have numerous benefits that can impact their lives and their future. A recent study in Psychological Medicine by Yun-Jun Sun, Barbara J. Sahakian and their team have explored how reading for pleasure impacts mental well-being and brain development of children. Here is what we know. 
Find out more about Independent Reading Programme at UNIS Hanoi

It's good for the brain

  • Reading for pleasure fosters critical thinking and creativity.
  • Reading aloud to children helps them expand their understanding and appreciation of oral and written language.
  • Reading aloud models fluent reading, builds knowledge of the world and extends vocabulary.
  • Reading aloud improves listening comprehension.
  • Reading aloud helps start conversations about characters, science and the world around us.
  • Consistent reading at home helps improve attention because reading requires students to sit still and listen attentively.

It's good for emotional development and well-being 

  • Reading for pleasure can help build empathy and reduce stress. 
  • Reading aloud can help children deal with sadness, anxiety, worry, and prepare them for situations they might face in the future.
  • Reading aloud creates a strong parent/caregiver-child bond.
  • Reading aloud fosters a love for reading at an early age. Children develop a sense of confidence in their own reading abilities as they see themselves as readers. 
  • Children who begin reading for pleasure at an earlier age tend to spend less screen time and sleep longer.


  • Choose a book together. Visit our UNIS Hanoi Library and ‘shop’ for books for your reading time.
  • Make it a routine by setting a regular time each day.
  • When appropriate, take turns reading.
  • Act out the story.
  • Talk about the events or new learning. Ask questions and help students make sense of what they read. 
  • Use different voices and bring the book to life.
  • Make it a family event: invite other family members to participate.

” There is no more important homework than reading. Research shows that the highest achieving students are those who devote leisure time to reading, even when the school day and year are only mid-length and homework isn’t excessive. Recently, the largest ever international study of reading found that the single most important indication predictor of academic success is the amount of time children spend reading books, more important even than economic or social status. And one of the few predictors of high achievement in math and science is the amount of time children devote to pleasure reading. “ Nancie Atwell, The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers